Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Roger Hawkins, Jr.

Other Tarrant County, Texas exonerations
On November 27, 1991, a 13-year-old girl, identified as B.M., reported that she had been sexually assaulted in her home 12 days earlier, on November 15, in Fort Worth, Texas.

The girl said she had stayed home from school that day. The doorbell rang and when she answered, five youths burst in, the girl said. Three of the five sexually assaulted her. The girl did not tell her parents, but told a sister. The sister then told the girl’s parents, and police were notified.

The girl told police that she had been confronted on two prior occasions by a group of youths who blamed her for reporting they were responsible for a flood at school. Police obtained yearbooks from two high schools, including Crowley High School, which was about six miles from the girl’s home in Crowley, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth. The girl began crying when she saw a photograph of 19-year-old Roger Hawkins Jr., a special education student at Crowley High School. Although he was 19 years old, Hawkins was only a sophomore. The girl said Hawkins was one of the three who had raped her.

On December 9, 1991, a Fort Worth police detective picked up Hawkins and took him to the police station. There, Hawkins denied involvement in the crime. He said he had met B.M. on one occasion at a basketball game. Hawkins was released and returned on December 13, 1992 to take a polygraph examination.

Afterward, during interrogation, police told Hawkins he had failed the polygraph. Ultimately, Hawkins gave a statement saying that on the afternoon of November 15, 1991, he was at the house of a friend named Dusty in Crowley. Hawkins said that B.M., who was Dusty’s girlfriend, was there. Hawkins told police that Dusty left, and, while Hawkins was alone with B.M., they started kissing. Hawkins said he digitally penetrated her vagina, but stopped when B.M. said she had a boyfriend and to leave her alone. Hawkins was then arrested.

On January 11, 1992, Hawkins told police that his confession was a lie. He said he panicked and made up the statement after police told him he failed the polygraph examination.

On March 31, 1992, a Tarrant County grand jury indicted Hawkins on two charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child—for raping B.M. at her home and for the digital penetration at Dusty’s home.

On May 4, 1992, Hawkins’s attorney, Richard Wright, told the prosecutor assigned to the case, Steve Wells, that Hawkins claimed he was in class at Crowley High on the morning of November 15 when the rape occurred. Wright did not request any records from the school, however.

While awaiting trial, Hawkins was assaulted in the Tarrant County Jail. Another inmate smashed him in the face with a milk crate, causing serious injury, including the loss of teeth.

On June 9, 1993, Hawkins pled guilty in Tarrant County Criminal District Court to one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child related to the digital penetration. The rape charge was dismissed. Hawkins was sentenced to six years of deferred adjudication, a form of probation.

Two years later, in September 1995, the prosecution sought to revoke his probation because Hawkins had failed to make payments on court fines and fees and he also had failed to report to his probation officer for many months.

On December 16, 1996, Hawkins was found in violation of his probation and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

He was released on parole on May 28, 2005 and was required to register as a convicted sex offender.

In 2016, B.M., by then 38 years old, was in a store when she heard a voice that she recognized as being one of her attackers. When she went home and looked up Hawkins’s photograph, she realized that Hawkins was not one of the youths who had raped her. She reached out to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) and reported that she believed she had mistakenly identified Hawkins.

When the case finally came to be re-investigated, B.M. was interviewed by prosecutors. During the interview in March 2018, B.M. said that her identification of Hawkins was a mistake. Moreover, she said that he had never digitally penetrated her at Dusty’s house on that same day in November 1991.

During the re-investigation of the case, the prosecution discovered that there were school attendance records in the case file showing that three of Hawkins’s teachers reported him in classes on the morning of November 15 when the rape occurred.

In addition, the file contained an interview with Hawkins’s friend, Dusty, who said that neither Hawkins nor B.M. had been at his house on the afternoon of November 15, 1991.

The attendance records and Dusty’s interview had not been disclosed to Hawkins’s defense attorney.

The prosecution file also contained notes from Wells saying that he had interviewed B.M., and that her account of the rape was not credible due to “inconsistencies.” Wells’s notes said, “It is my impression that [B.M.’s] story is not credible…[B.M.] told glaring inconsistencies…At this point, there is no way I would try this case because I do not believe it beyond a [reasonable] doubt.”

In September 2019, attorney Adam Arrington was appointed to represent Hawkins. In December 2021, Arrington filed a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A hearing was held in February 2022.

In April 2022, Arrington and Steven Conder, the chief of the (CIU), submitted a joint proposed findings of fact in which the prosecution agreed that evidence substantiating Hawkins’s claim that he was in school at the time of the rape had been in the prosecution file, but had not been disclosed to the defense. The findings also said that Hawkins’s defense attorney had failed to investigate and obtain the attendance records.

The findings noted that the charge that Hawkins had pled guilty to was based only on his confession and that B.M. had claimed that it never happened.

The findings also said that Hawkins wanted to go to trial in 1993 because he maintained his innocence. But after he was assaulted in the jail and his attorney told him he might not go to trial for another 18 months, he decided to plead guilty when offered a sentence of probation. At the time, Hawkins was facing a possible sentence, if convicted on both counts, of five years to 99 years in prison—essentially up to life in prison.

Hawkins “entered his guilty plea under the duress of a never-ending pretrial incarceration and the fear of being re-assaulted,” the findings said. [Hawkins] “entered his guilty plea under the duress of possibly serving a life sentence for a crime he did not commit.”

On April 28, 2022, Tarrant County Criminal District Judge Ryan Hill recommended that the writ be granted. On August 24, 2022, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated Hawkins’s conviction.

On September 22, 2022, the case was dismissed. Conder said, “The criminal justice system failed Mr. Hawkins. He was wrongly convicted because there was no thorough investigation of his case or defense of him.”

– Maurice Possley

Report an error or add more information about this case.

Posting Date: 12/12/2022
Last Updated: 12/12/2022
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1991
Sentence:10 years
Age at the date of reported crime:19
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, False Confession, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No