Pair cleared in 1988 homicide, rape convictions
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After greater than 30 years, Joyce Watkins and Charlie Dunn have been cleared of their convictions involving homicide and rape of Watkins’ 4-year-old great-niece Brandi.
The district lawyer’s workplace mentioned these convictions have been a results of an aggressive and dishonest prosecution.
A listening to was held on Wednesday at 9 a.m. the place Choose Angelita Blackshear Dalton shared her official ruling to dismiss the costs towards them. In consequence, Watkins is not listed on Tennessee’s Intercourse Offender Registry.
Learn extra: Choose vacates 1988 homicide, rape convictions of Joyce Watkins and Charlie Dunn
“It has been a protracted battle, however I need to thank the DA’s workplace. I need to thank Mr. Gichner right here with the Tennessee Innocence Challenge and all of the folks for his or her prayers and simply serving to me to get out of this mess which price me half of my life for nothing,” Watkins mentioned.
Jackie Dunn mentioned she understood Ms. Watkins’ frustration due to all her father misplaced simply earlier than he died.
“It is a bittersweet day. I want my daddy was right here to witness this present day. He knew he was harmless. He knew he didn’t commit these crimes. He misplaced his mom, his two brothers, his sister and his son. So many individuals misplaced and he was harmless. He died in a spot he was by no means imagined to be,” Dunn mentioned.
The Tennessee Innocence Challenge helped reopen the case, and the DA’s Conviction Assessment Unit, which analyzed the proof from the 80s. Lawyer Jason Gichner mentioned none of this is able to have been potential with out the continued collaboration with the CRU.
“These sorts of instances the place persons are wrongfully convicted should not be adversarial. We welcome the chance to work with prosecutors throughout the state to determine and do one thing about wrongful convictions,” Gichner mentioned.
The case started unfolding in 1987 when the couple picked Brandi up from one other member of the family’s dwelling the place she had been staying for 2 months.
Watkins mentioned she introduced the woman again to Nashville and 9 hours later, Brandi was unconscious. She observed blood in Brandi’s underwear and indicators of bruising. Docs discovered indicators of rape and trauma, which attorneys decided was sufficient to cost each Watkins and Dunn.
New specialists testified final month that the unique medical experts used discredited strategies not rooted in science to recommend Brandi was within the care of Watkins and Dunn when she was raped.
A 44-page report from the CRU and lawyer Sunny Eaton went on to point out there was unreliable testimony, misrepresented information to the jury and defective medical conclusions. Aside from the truth that Dunn was a male in Brandi’s presence shortly earlier than her loss of life, “there may be totally no proof suggesting Mr. Dunn’s guilt,” in line with the report.
Choose Dalton agreed there was no compelling scientific proof that Watkins and Dunn dedicated the crimes and that the medical report on the time was inaccurate.
Earlier than she dismissed the convictions, Nashville District Lawyer Glenn Funk advised the courtroom that it is clear the mistaken folks have been behind bars for all these years.
“The mandate of the district lawyer’s workplace is to do justice at all times. In a system devised and run by people, we should acknowledge that wrongful convictions happen,” Funk mentioned.
Funk mentioned whereas they can’t give Joyce Watkins and Charlie Dunn time again, they will restore their names. Their innocence calls for it.
Dunn died in jail whereas awaiting parole. Watkins served 27 years in jail and was granted parole in 2015.
The Dunn and Watkins household have been shut because the starting, however even nearer since final month. That is when for the primary time they heard Watkins was provided a deal to testify towards Dunn and keep away from jail. She declined. When requested why? She mentioned, “as a result of Charlie was harmless. We have been harmless.”
“They at all times knew they have been harmless. Their households knew they have been harmless and now as we speak, everyone is aware of they’re harmless,” Gichner mentioned.
This makes 5 convictions overturned by Nashville’s Conviction Assessment Unit since they first started in 2017. These items accross Tennessee are chargeable for exonerating 35 folks.
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