- Sexual Assault
- 40 Years
Tyrone Day was represented by The Innocence Project, Innocence Project of Texas and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. In October of 1989, an 18-year-old woman contacted the Dallas Police Department to report that she had been sexually assaulted. The woman was deaf and suffered from a speech disability that made it difficult for her to vocally communicate with officers, so she communicated through written notes. She reported that while walking in the Fair Park area with her friend, they were approached by a black man who offered them drugs. The woman reported that, after declining his offer, she was pulled into a nearby deserted apartment where she was assaulted by him and two other males.
Arrest & Trial
While exchanging notes with officers near the scene, the woman saw Tyrone Day, a 19-year-old black man, about 50 feet away. She identified him based on the white hat he was wearing, stating that it was similar to the hat worn by one of the assailants. Tyrone was arrested while the young woman was taken to a hospital, where a sexual assault kit was collected along with her clothing. A photo or in-person lineup was never conducted with the victim.
Once arrested, Tyrone’s attorney encouraged him to plead guilty to avoid the possibility of receiving the maximum sentence of 99 years at trial. Tyrone’s attorney incorrectly told him that if he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 years, he would likely be paroled after four years. At the time of his arrest, Tyrone had two young daughters who he was desperate to return home to and was also suffering from significant health issues. Tyrone believed that, as a black man accused of sexually assaulting a white woman in Texas, he would not be able to convince a jury that he was innocent. So, although he maintained his innocence, he followed his attorney’s advice. In February of 1990, Tyrone took a guilty plea, hoping he would be reunited with his family in four short years. Due to his guilty plea, no evidence from the assault was tested at that time.
During his incarceration, Tyrone continued to seek assistance in proving his innocence. He wrote The Innocence Project in 2000 and became an official Innocence Project client in 2004. In 2008, the newly developed Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) in Dallas agreed to extensively test the sexual assault kit and clothing, which both had to be tested multiple times to produce usable results. Tyrone was incarcerated for more than 25 years before being paroled in January of 2015. He was required to register as a sex offender.
After his release, Tyrone helped found Restorative Farms in South Dallas with the mission of fostering a vibrant and viable community-based urban farm system. Using his years of experience in the prison greenhouse and his horticulture degree from Trinity Valley Community College, obtained while he was incarcerated, Tyrone works as the lead horticulturist and system manager of Restorative Farms.
Testing of the crime scene evidence eventually revealed DNA from two unknown males and a third low-level male contributor. Tyrone was conclusively excluded as a possible contributor. The two contributors were positively identified when the DNA was compared to the FBI’s national DNA database.
In March of 2023, the Dallas County Criminal District Judge recommended that Tyrone be found actually innocent. In April of 2023, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ of habeas corpus and remanded the case to Dallas County for a final resolution. On May 24th, 2023, the case was dismissed in Dallas District Court.
Systemic Failures Have Wrongly
Imprisoned Thousands of
The Generosity of Their Fellow Citizens Can Provide Them
The Freedom They Deserve.