Through the use of forensic DNA testing, Charles Chatman has become the 15th person in Dallas since 2001 to be exonerated for a crime that he did not commit. At the age of 20, Charles Chatman was convicted of rape and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Eyewitness misidentification was the leading cause of Mr. Chatman’s 26-year incarceration.
On January 3, with the help of the Texas Innocence Project, Mr. Chatman was cleared of his rape conviction. With previous STR DNA analysis yielding inconclusive results, Chatman agreed to allow the biological evidence in the case to undergo Y-STR testing. Even with risk of the forensic evidence being consumed, Mr. Chatman proceeded with this advanced form of forensic testing. This type of DNA analysis is very helpful in sexual assault cases where the evidence contains a mixture of male and female DNA. If the male DNA profile is being concealed by the female profile, a forensic laboratory can use Y-STR testing to isolate the male profile.
Over the course of his incarceration, Mr. Chatman was denied parole 3 times as a result of him not admitting to the guilt of his conviction. Chatman stated that he refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing of a crime that he did not commit. At age 46, Mr. Chatman is the longest-serving prisoner to be exonerated by forensic DNA testing.