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    Posted January 15, 2014 by
    Houston, Texas

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    Blindsided By Injustice


    Reginald  Matthews, who has been out of jail since 2004, has been diligently  researching the details surrounding his case and has recently discovered  some shocking new evidence that he claims proves his innocence and  should completely exonerate him.

    Matthews spent 14 years and 3 months in jail for a crime he boldly and vehemently proclaims he never committed.

    Arrest Gone Wrong

    On  the night of September 27, 1990, Matthews was on his way home from a  friend’s house in southwest Houston, when he was stopped by a police  officer. Matthews was immediately notified by police that he was being  detained because a crime had just been committed in the area, less than  10 minutes prior, and that he fit the description of the suspect.

    According  to police, the perpetrator removed all of his clothing prior to  breaking in the victim’s home and abruptly fled the scene once they  became startled.  Police were able to recover a major piece of evidence;  the clothing that the perpetrator left behind outside of the victim’s  home.

    The  police took Matthews back to the scene of the crime, where the victim  was asked to come out and identify the perpetrator. The victim, who was  in her early 20’s, came outside and upon seeing Matthews immediately  told police that she did not recognize him as the perpetrator that had  come inside her home.

    Matthews  was forced to wait in the back of the patrol car, when after 45  minutes, the victim’s 13-year old sister came out.  She was asked to  identify the perpetrator an hour later, just as the actual victim, her  sister was asked to do; her response was not only different, it was  life-altering.

    The  younger sister, who told police she had only seen one side of the  perpetrator’s face for about 3 to 5 seconds, identified Matthews as the  perpetrator who entered their home that evening.

    From Bad to Worse

    Matthews,  who was a young, confident 20-year old Black male, never panicked about  the situation and never truly considered the severity of the situation  involving him, because he knew he was innocent and never backed away  from professing his innocence. He had never been arrested for any crimes  prior to this incident and in his mind, things would be squared away.

    After  being taken into custody, Matthews was videotaped as a part of a  criminal lineup.  It was that videotaped lineup and the subsequent  events that occurred, that quickly helped Matthews come to the  realization that things had escalated to a much more serious set of  circumstances than he initially figured.

    Within  a week’s timeframe, the sex-crimes head at the time, Houston Police  Sgt. Gregg Kuschel, had called in several women to come in and view the  videotaped lineup that Matthews appeared in.  Before you knew it,  Matthews had been identified by several different sexual assault victims  as the perpetrator in 4 new serious sexual assault charges.

    Sgt.  Kuschel proceeded to call in other sexual assault victims to view the  videotaped lineup and when all was said and done Matthews had been  identified as the perpetrator in a whopping 12 separate sexual assault  crimes, with some of the crimes including sodomy and even murder.

    Convicted Without DNA Evidence

    Matthews  continued to claim his innocence and demanded that DNA testing be  done.  Not only had Matthews never been arrested before or convicted of  any other crimes, there was DNA evidence to prove that Matthews was the  perpetrator in any case, including the one for which he was originally  arrested.

    While  in jail, Matthews was subjected to DNA testing and while awaiting the  results of the tests he was told that he would have to face a jury trial  for the alleged crime he was originally arrested for – "Burglary with  the Intent to Commit a Sexual Act."

    The  initial DNA tests that were done came back inconclusive, which meant  that they could not completely rule Matthews out.  A second DNA test  that was done had not come back yet and thus numerous recommendations  were made by members of the justice system to delay sending Matthews to  trial until the second set of DNA test results came back; those  recommendations were ignored.

    Based  on the number of new cases that had been added to Matthews’ list of  problems, the district attorney’s office tried to offer him a plea deal  of 5 years in prison for the case he was arrested for, but he vehemently  refused.  The decision to refuse the plea deal split his family and  caused a deep strain with his mother.

    Matthews’  mother was told by the district attorney’s office that he would be  facing a potential 99-year sentence, but if he took the plea deal he  could avoid it. His mother tried to convince him to take the plea deal,  but because he knew he was innocent, he refused to compromise his  stance.

    Matthews  was issued a court-appointed attorney who he believes did not fight  hard at all for him.  There was no real evidence to convict Matthews,  except for the testimony of the 13-year old sister who told police and  testified under oath that she only saw the side of the perpetrator’s  face for 3 to 5 seconds; they ignored the testimony of the actual victim  who told police and testified under oath that Matthews wasn’t the  perpetrator she saw in the home.

    Matthews  was found guilty by the jury and given a 40-year sentence in July 1991,  by Judge Lupe Salinas in the 351st District Court in Harris County,  Texas. He began serving his prison sentence and the DNA evidence still  had not arrived.

    Matthews  had not gone to trial to face the other 12 charges that he had been  accused of, primarily because they were awaiting the results of the DNA  tests before they proceeded on those cases, unlike the original case  that he was convicted for.

    This is where the rest of the story raises some serious questions and red flags.

    Red Flag Questions

    Prior  to the DNA evidence coming back, one of the sexual assault cases where  Matthews was selected from the videotape lineup was dismissed because  Matthews was found to have received a traffic ticket in Louisiana only  28 minutes prior to the crime being committed on the same day.

    When  the DNA results finally returned, six months after Matthews began his  prison sentence, results showed that his DNA was not tied to any of the  12 sexual assault cases he was selected out of the videotaped lineup and  indicted for. Matthews was eventually cleared of those crimes.

    More  importantly, the primary evidence at the scene of the crime Matthews  was originally arrested and convicted for, reflects that the DNA on the  clothes that were left at the scene of the crime did and do not contain  any of Reginald Matthews’ DNA.

    The  most disturbing part is that the people responsible for getting the DNA  testing done for Matthews, apparently never forwarded the information  concerning his DNA results to the proper authorities to exonerate him  and clear his name of the crime he was convicted of.

    Matthews  served more than 13 years more time in prison than he should have when  the evidence came back and was never forwarded to the system to  exonerate him.

    Restitution Required

    During  his prison sentence, Matthews consistently went before the parole board  and refused to admit he was a rapist. He was eventually released from  prison in 2004, but has been on parole.  Matthews says that he cannot  leave the state of Texas, can’t get gainful employment and has trouble  finding adequate housing because he has to register as a sex offender,  although no sexual act was committed for the crime he was convicted of.

    When  Matthews got out of jail, he demanded his files and has been gathering  and reviewing this information since he received it.  He eventually  located and reached out to the judge who sentenced him to the 40-years  and after reviewing the evidence and information, the judge has agreed  to help him as much as he can.  Judge Salinas, who is no longer  practicing on the bench, referred Matthews to the Innocence Project of  Texas, but Matthews believes that the evidence is too clear cut to wait  and he wants to be exonerated.

    "I  want my life back. Haven’t I given you enough already?," says  Matthews.  "I have given the state 14 years and 3 months of my life  behind bars and another 9 years of prison on the outside because of this  wrongful conviction. The evidence is on my side and they have the DNA  evidence to exonerate me.  Please do the right thing.!"

    Common Occurrence

    Matthews’  case mirrors that of many other individuals who have been charged and  convicted of rape, like former top college football prospect Brian Banks  or Charles Chatman, who became the 15th inmate from Dallas County,  Texas to be freed by DNA testing since 2001.

    Texas  leads America in prisoners freed by DNA testing, releasing at least 30  wrongfully convicted inmates since 2001, and Dallas County has freed  more inmates after DNA testing than any other county nationwide,  according to the Innocence Project of Texas.

    Chatman  was 20-years old when he was picked from a lineup by a young sexual  assault victim in her 20s, although he stated that he was working at the  time of the assault and his sister supported that alibi because she was  his employer. Despite the evidence, Chatman was convicted of aggravated  sexual assault in 1981 and sentenced to 99 years in prison.

    Banks  pleaded no contest to one count of forcible rape, spent five years in  prison and, upon his release, was forced to register as a sex offender  and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. He reached out to the  California Innocence Project in San Diego, but was told there was  nothing their attorneys could do without new evidence.

    Matthews  has new evidence that he hopes will get people behind his cause and  generates the attention it deserves, not only for him but for others who  are facing similar circumstances. His conviction and commitment to  standing by his innocence has led him to seek immediate vindication,  seek immediate justice and demand for the system to clear his name.

    The Houston Forward Times (HFT) will continue following this story and will keep our readers updated as more details arise.


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