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Tyrone Day

Other Dallas County, Texas exonerations
At 2 a.m. on October 25, 1989, Dallas police responded to a report by an 18-year-old woman that she had been sexually assaulted. The woman, identified as A.C., could not hear and was unable to speak, so she wrote out what happened. She reported that she and a friend, who also was unable to hear or speak, were walking in the Fair Park neighborhood when a Black man approached, offered her drugs, and after she refused, forced her into a nearby apartment where the man and two other men sexually assaulted her.

While A.C. was making her report, 19-year-old Tyrone Day happened to walk by. She pointed to Day and indicated he was one of her attackers. Day was promptly arrested.

A.C. was taken to Parkland Hospital where a sexual assault kit and her clothing were collected.

Although Day asserted his innocence, on February 2, 1990, he pled guilty to rape. He agreed to plead guilty after his defense attorney said Day would likely be released on parole after four years in prison. The lawyer also warned him that if he went to trial and was convicted, he could face a life sentence. At the time, Day was experiencing significant health issues and had two young daughters to whom he wanted to return home, so he accepted the plea.

He was sentenced to 40 years in prison and was not released on parole until January 6, 2015—more than 26 years after he was arrested. During those years, Day repeatedly sought to prove his innocence. In 2000, he wrote to the Innocence Project at Cardozo School of Law, seeking help. In 2001 and in 2005, petitions seeking DNA testing of the rape kit were denied after the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office opposed the petitions.

In 2008, after the District Attorney’s Office created a Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), Innocence Project attorney Vanessa Potkin and the CIU agreed to test the sexual assault kit and A.C.’s clothing. The testing was extensive and took years. Ultimately the DNA profiles of two unknown men as well as the low-level profile of a third male were identified.

Day was excluded as the source of all three of the profiles. One profile was suitable to upload into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which contained nearly 20 million DNA profiles. The database search pointed to the DNA profile of a man (R.W.), who admitted that he had promised to give A.C. marijuana in exchange for sex and that, after they had sex, he refused to give A.C. anything.

R.W. also told the CIU that another man, C.D., had sex with A.C. The CIU obtained a DNA sample from C.D., and that turned out to be consistent with one of the other two unidentified DNA profiles.

Beginning in 2018, the CIU conducted three interviews with A.C. with the assistance of a certified American Sign Language interpreter. A.C. gave varying accounts of what happened, but ultimately, in 2019, she reported that she was exchanging sex for drugs. When she provided sex, but did not get the drugs, she felt she was the victim of a sexual assault. A.C. told the CIU that if the man had given her the marijuana, she would not have said she was raped.

A.C. also said that when she identified Day as her attacker, he was on an upstairs breezeway of an apartment complex, and she was about 50 feet away in a police car. She said she did not identify Day by his face, but based only on the hat he was wearing.

On March 10, 2023, Dallas County Criminal District Court Judge Carter Thompson agreed to joint findings of fact in a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus presented jointly by CIU chief Cynthia Garza, as well as Day’s attorneys, including Potkin, Gary Udashen of the Innocence Project of Texas, and Jenae Ward and Paul Genender, of the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

On April 26, 2023, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated Day’s conviction. On May 24, 2023, the charge was dismissed.

While in prison, Day studied horticulture at Trinity Valley Community College. After his release, Day co-founded Restorative Farms, an urban farming system in Dallas. After the charge was dismissed, he thanked the CIU and the Innocence Project.

“It has been a long, hard journey for my family and me, but I never lost faith that my innocence would be proven,” Day said. “Today I am focused on my family and my passion for sustainable farming. I was born and raised in South Dallas and the opportunity to bring fresh produce here, where it’s scarce, and train the next generation of farmers is so meaningful to me.”

Day was subsequently awarded $2,227,716 in compensation from the state of Texas.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 6/14/2023
Last Updated: 1/12/2024
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1989
Sentence:40 years
Age at the date of reported crime:19
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes