In January 2009, Willie Walker, the manager of the New Start Club in Fort Worth, was shot and killed at the club during a robbery after closing time. Witnesses at the club were not able to positively identify the assailants. Willie Thomas was implicated in the murder largely based on the statements of two other men who later pled guilty to the robbery for reduced sentences.
Police recovered a gun at the scene and determined that the bullets used to kill Walker were fired from that gun. A forensic DNA analyst at the time testified that Willie Thomas’ DNA could not be excluded as the DNA found on the trigger. In 2011, a jury convicted Mr. Thomas of the robbery and fatal shooting. He was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
In 2018, the DNA evidence in his case was reinterpreted using more advanced and accurate methods. The new results excluded Mr. Thomas as a contributor to the DNA found on the murder weapon. In December of 2021, a Tarrant County judge set bond allowing him to be released on bond.
With the new interpretation of the DNA results, IPTX filed a writ in district court to have the conviction vacated. In December of 2022, the district judge recommended to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that he receive a new trial. On November 8, 2022 the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the conviction should be vacated. The case will return to the Tarrant County district court for further action.
Systemic Failures Have Wrongly
Imprisoned Thousands of
The Generosity of Their Fellow Citizens Can Provide Them
The Freedom They Deserve.