FORT WORTH, Texas — A man who spent more than two decades behind bars was freed Friday after DNA evidence cleared him in the rape of a 14-year-old Fort Worth girl.
David Lee Wiggins was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1989, although neither of the two fingerprints found at the scene matched his. The girl, whose face was covered during most of the attack, picked him out of a photo lineup and then a live lineup, saying he looked familiar.
But DNA testing earlier this month excluded Wiggins as the person who committed the crime. Tarrant County prosecutors said DNA evidence demonstrated his innocence.
State District Judge Louis Sturns in Fort Worth freed Wiggins on a personal bond after approving a motion to overturn his conviction. Before the crime is officially cleared from his record, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must accept the judge’s recommendation or the governor must grant a pardon.
After his conviction is formally reversed, Wiggins will be eligible for $80,000 a year in compensation that Texas pays to wrongfully convicted former inmates.