State News

La. death row inmate cleared by DNA

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Posted: Sep 28, 2012 4:45 PM
Source: Associated Press

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Topics: new orleans, louisiana, death, row, inmate, exonerated, dna, rape, murder, Damon Thibodeaux

NEW ORLEANS - A 38-year-old man wrongly convicted of raping and killing his step-cousin in 1997 was released Friday from Louisiana's death row after DNA tests found him to be innocent.

Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Corrections, said Damon Thibodeaux was released at about 12:30 p.m. after spending 15 years on death row.

Thibodeaux was sentenced to death by lethal injection for raping, beating and strangling his step-cousin, Crystal Champagne.

Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, said Jefferson Parish prosecutors and Thibodeaux's defense lawyers worked together to analyze the evidence against Thibodeaux and concluded that Thibodeaux made a false confession.

He said Thibodeaux was the 18th death row inmate in the United States to be exonerated by DNA.

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