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DNA Evidence Prompts Pardon Plea

July 25, 2000

HOUSTON (AP) _ Prosecutors are calling for the pardon of a Texas man convicted of rape and imprisoned 10 years ago, citing new DNA evidence and witnesses in a case twice upheld by the state’s highest criminal court.

Roy Criner, 35, was sent to prison for the rape of 16-year-old Deanna Ogg, whose nude, bludgeoned body was found in 1986. He was charged with murder, a count later dropped for lack of evidence.

He received a 99-year prison sentence, convicted largely on the testimony of three acquaintances who said he told them he had picked up a woman and had sex with her. Prosecutors said the woman was Ogg.

``The evidence we now have shows that we couldn’t convict him of that offense,″ Montgomery County District Attorney Michael McDougal said this week.

McDougal, District Judge Mike Mayes and Montgomery County Sheriff Guy Williams are scheduled Friday to sign a statement asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend a pardon for Criner.

The recommendation would then go to Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican presidential candidate who has issued less than two dozen pardons since taking office. Since 1997, he has pardoned three inmates convicted of rape or sexual assault after DNA evidence ruled them out.

In Criner’s case, recently discovered DNA evidence on a cigarette someone shared with Ogg before her death suggests Criner is innocent. Defense attorneys also say they have found the woman Criner picked up as a hitchhiker the night of Ogg’s murder.

Criner’s attorney, Michael Charlton, successfully challenged Criner’s convictions in 1992 and 1998, but both rulings were overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. In one of the appeals, a DNA test of semen found on the victim cleared Criner.