Man Exonerated Of 1987 Double Murder

| by Daniel Rivera
Steven Mark ChaneySteven Mark Chaney

A Texas man found guilty of a double murder from 1987 was released after a judge overturned his conviction based on discredited forensic evidence.

Steven Mark Chaney was sentenced to life in prison after a dentist testified in front of a Dallas County jury in 1989 that there was a "one in a million chance" that the bite marks on one of the victims were made by anyone else than Chaney.

State District Judge Dominique Collins reversed Chaney's conviction after receiving a joint request from Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk, the Innocence Project and the Dallas County Public Defender's Office, reports Fox News.

Chaney, 59, was allowed to walk free Oct. 12 while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reviews the findings behind the John and Sally Sweek murders.

"I could sit and recount all the wrongs," Chaney told the press following the hearing. "The loss of my oldest stepson, my oldest grandchild two year ago, but this is a time for rejoicing and not recounting."

The defense lawyers on the case believe the trial was riddled with false evidence claims from the prosecution, such as blood on the bottom of Chaney's tennis shoe. They also claimed prosecutors withheld information from an expert who said there was no blood on Chaney's shoes.

The defense team also said the prosecution elicited the false testimony of a co-worker of Chaney's, who originally told authorities Chaney had asked him to testify as a "witness" that he last been at the victims' home a week before their murders. When it came to trial, the co-worker told the jury Chaney had asked him to be an "alibi" witness.

Chaney's lawyers have filed court papers claiming new evidence proves his innocence.

In a statement, Dallas County exoneration attorney Julie Less said the district attorney's office has not taken a position on his innocence but maintained he did not receive a fair trial.

"We're confident that when the reinvestigation is complete, the district attorney's office will be in a position to formally agree that he is innocent of this crime," said Less.

According to the Innocence Project, improper forensic evidence has played a part in 47 percent of wrongful convictions. While DNA testing resulted in 330 people being exonerated, notes the Innocence Project, this case involved the somewhat unreliable science of bite mark matching.

Sources: Fox News, Innocence Project / Photo credit: KDFW