DALLAS -- A Texas man's 1986 conviction for sexual assault
could be overturned as a result of recent DNA testing, attorneys
involved in the case disclosed Tuesday.
A hearing is scheduled for Thursday to consider the case of
Larry Sims, who has spent all but a few months in prison over the
last 25 years. District Judge Gracie Lewis will hear evidence that
Sims was wrongfully accused, and Dallas County prosecutors will
support overturning the conviction, according to Mike Ware, who
heads the county's conviction integrity unit.
"The DNA excluded Sims and was a match to a known individual,"
Ware said. "We will agree to a favorable finding."
That decision will not exonerate Sims, 61, but it will allow him
to seek a pardon or a writ that would lead to his freedom.
"I believe he's innocent, but technically he's not an exoneree
without the pardon or the writ," said his attorney, public
defender Michelle Moore.
With a favorable decision Thursday, Sims could be released on
bail, she said.
The assault allegedly occurred after a night of drinking and
smoking crack at a Dallas motel, Moore said. The victim testified
that she didn't have sex with another man who was in the group, but
the recent test found DNA from that man and not Sims.
Moore said Sims did not seek DNA testing until he was paroled
briefly last year because he didn't trust the mail.
"Guys kept telling him, `If you believe you're innocent, you
ought to put in for DNA testing,' but he wanted to hand-deliver his
request," she said.
Sims was later returned to prison because of minor parole
violations, Moore said.
There have been 21 DNA exonerations in Dallas over the last 10
years, more than any other county in the nation. The Dallas crime
lab maintains biological evidence for decades, allowing for samples
that can be tested.
According to Moore, Sims' first act should he obtain his freedom
would be to visit the grave of his mother, who died while he was
incarcerated. He then wants to settle in a place where "it's
quiet," she said.