- 10 Years Probation
[Note: Marcus is one of three exonerates in this case. The other exonerees in this case are Shakara Robertson and Darryl Washington]
On November 17, 1994, an elderly woman got out of her car outside a drugstore at the Inwood in Dallas, when a group of young men grabbed her purse, pushed her to the sidewalk and fled.
Police were called and an eyewitness pointed out some young men sitting at a nearby bus stop drinking beer. They were arrested 15 minutes after the crime. The purse was never found.
Arrest & Trial
Arrested were Darryl Washington, Shakara Robertson and Marcus Lashun Smith and two juvenile youths. They were taken to the drugstore for a show-up so that the victim and other witnesses could view them. The victim could not identify any of them, but bystanders identified Washington, Robertson and Smith – solely by their clothing – as either participating in the robbery or running away.
Smith, Robertson and Washington were charged with aggravated robbery. Smith pled no contest in October 1995 in return for deferred adjudication and remained free. Robertson also pled no contest and received 10 years probation.
Washington went to trial before a jury. Although three witnesses to the crime testified, only one could identify him and only by the clothing he was wearing at the time he was arrested. He was convicted in April 1996 and sentenced to 99 years in prison.
An investigation by a law student was started on Washington’s behalf in 2002. Washington was able to provide information for a woman who had knowledge of the actual perpetrators. Over several years, the law student tracked down four of the five people the woman named (one had since died after being fatally shot) and all admitted their guilt.
In 2009, the law student brought the case to the Innocence Project of Texas. As the investigation continued, they discovered that the Dallas District Attorney’s office had failed to tell lawyers for Washington, Robertson or Smith that the charges against the juveniles were dismissed because no witnesses could identify them, even after one of the juveniles put on the same clothing he wore on the day of the arrest.
IPTX filed a petition for a state writ of habeas corpus and, following a separate investigation by the Conviction Integrity Unit of the Dallas District Attorney’s Office, a hearing was held on March 2, 2012. The four men perpetrators testified that they never came forward because they did not want to get in trouble.
All of them were 15 years old at the time and because the statute of limitations has expired can no longer be charged with the crime. All later were convicted of drug and other charges. One was serving a nine-year prison term.
On April 6, 2012, at the joint urging of the lawyers for Washington, Smith and Robertson and the District Attorney’s Office, the district judge vacated their convictions, declared them innocent and dismissed the charges. On May 23, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the district judge’s ruling.
Systemic Failures Have Wrongly
Imprisoned Thousands of
The Generosity of Their Fellow Citizens Can Provide Them
The Freedom They Deserve.