Two Years Later, Texas Monthly Gets an Answer to a DNA Question
This morning, you probably picked up your daily paper and saw the story about Steven Phillips, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in 1982 and sentenced to 40 years based on eyewitness testimony. Phillips makes the news today because he's the 14th person cleared of a crime in Dallas County thanks to exculpatory DNA evidence -- though he's not going to be set free, as Phillips pleaded guilty to eight other sex crimes following his conviction.
Michael Hall of Texas Monthly -- who, in January 2006, wrote a story about Phillips headlined "Why Can't Steven Phillips Get a DNA Test?" -- actually broke the news about Phillips' DNA results on Friday. He also quotes an attorney with the Innocence Project who suggests Phillips didn't commit those other crimes to which he pleaded guilty. Mike Ware, of the Dallas County District Attorney's office, remains unconvinced:
Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project says, “It’s obvious that all the crimes were committed by the same man -- the descriptions of the perpetrator, the things he said, the strong similarities in the times and locations of the crimes.” Michael Ware, the recently hired special assistant prosecutor in charge of re-investigating the old DNA cases, isn't so sure. "We're not prepared to say he's exonerated on those other crimes, but it's safe to say he will be the fourteenth exoneration on the rape and burglary victim."
The lone comment on Mike's post is from Steven's brother: "His family has always believed in his innocence," he writes. But as Hall reminds Unfair Park this morning, Phillips isn't a "perfect citizen by any means," as evidenced by his admission to being a Peeping Tom, a sex addict and a flasher. So it's not over yet, not by a long shot, for Steven Phillips. --Robert Wilonsky