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Ricardo Rachell

Other Texas Child Sex Abuse Cases
On October 20, 2002, an eight-year-old boy was seen running down Griggs Road in Houston, Texas, screaming that a man had pulled a knife on him. The boy was taken to his home, along with a six-year-old boy who had been with him. The older boy said a man offered him money to pick up trash.

The following day, the boy and members of his family saw 45-year-old Ricardo Rachell riding his bicycle. The boy identified Rachell and said he had taken him into a vacant house, pulled down his pants and sexually assaulted him.

Rachell was charged with sexual assault of a child and voluntarily gave a sample of his DNA, but it was not compared to the DNA recovered from the victim.

Rachell went to trial in Harris County Criminal District Court in May 2003. The victim and his friend identified Rachell as the attacker. The boy’s mother testified to how the boys had described the incident; she admitted that neither had mentioned that Rachell had a severely disfigured face and a speech impediment as a result of being shot years earlier. On June 5, 2003, Rachell was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Rachell’s conviction was upheld on appeal. In 2007, Rachell wrote to the Houston police department requesting DNA testing. Rachell asserted that the crime was committed by Andrew Hawthorne, who was known as the “Yellowstone Park Serial Rapist.” Hawthorne was serving a 60-year prison sentence for three sexual assaults in 2004 that all occurred in the same geographic area as the assault for which Rachell was convicted.

In 2008, DNA tests excluded Rachell and identified Hawthorne as the attacker. Hawthorne later confessed to the assault. In December 2008, Rachell was released from prison and in 2009, the Harris County District Attorney's conviction integrity unit supported a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Rachell's defense attorney. In 2009, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ of habeas corpus vacating his conviction. The prosecution dismissed the charge in May 2011.

In 2009, Hawthorne pled guilty to the assault. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison to be served concurrently with his prior 60-year sentence.

In July 2011, Rachell was awarded $493,000 in state compensation plus an annuity of $2,800.
– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 12/1/2016
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2002
Sentence:40 years
Age at the date of reported crime:45
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes