Man wrongfully convicted now officially a free man

January 4, 2011 4:17:27 PM PST
A man who spent nearly 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit is officially a free man. Allen Porter was freed from prison nearly six months ago, after a review of his case found he was wrongly convicted. On Tuesday, though, by order of the Court of Criminal Appeals, the case against him which put him behind bars for more than half his life was dismissed.

Porter came to court Tuesday for an official reversal of 19 years of his life. That's how long he spent in prison for a rape conviction.

"Whatever you go through, don't give up," said Porter.

Two years ago, he wrote Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, asking his case be reviewed. It was new interviews and old evidence that showed he didn't commit the crime. This summer, he was released from prison. His sister's faith never waivered.

"I could read his letters and hear the determination in him from the letters and I held on to his word, but most of all, held onto God's hand," said Porter's sister, Sandra Reeves.

In court Tuesday morning, standing before a smiling judge, the case against Porter was ordered dismissed, the end of a long road that might have turned a lesser person bitter and angry.

Porter is not that person. His faith, he says, is larger, not diminished.

"One thing I know, I trusted God," he said. "Sometimes you have doubts, but I trusted God through it all and he made it happen."

Porter is entitled to restitution from the state. For now, he is working for his brother's lawn care business.

The long road

Porter's case stemmed from a robbery and sexual assault at an apartment in southwest Houston on June 18, 1990. Three masked robbers burst into the apartment and sexually assaulted two women inside.

Porter's nephew, Jimmy D. Hatton, now 40 years old, was convicted in the case. According to the Harris County DA's office, Porter was at Hatton's trial and was arrested there when a witness said Porter resembled one of the other gunmen. Porter was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault and sent to prison.

Six years ago, DNA testing did not link Porter to the assault, though the findings reportedly were not enough to prove his innocence. His fingerprints were also not among those found at the scene.

Hatton and an inmate convicted of another crime acknowledged to the district attorney's office that they had participated in the crime, but said that Porter had no involvement. They led investigators to a different suspect, whose fingerprints matched those found at the scene.