DNA Evidence Leads to Release of Texas Man Who Spent Four Years on Death Row

A man originally sentenced to death for four murders in Texas has been released on his own recognizance after new DNA evidence was discovered.  Robert Springsteen and co-defendant Michael Scott were released by State District Judge Mike Lynch after prosecutors said they were not prepared to go to trial as scheduled, leaving Judge Lynch to follow through on his promise to the defendants that another delay would mean freedom for the defendants.  Lynch said he not only had to consider the charges but the rights of the men to a trial.  Springsteen and Scott were both convicted of capital murder, with Springsteen receiving a death sentence and Scott receiving life, but the convictions were thrown out on appeal.  Now new DNA tests have shown conclusively that the evidence retrieved on scene did not belong to Springsteen, Scott or other previous co-defendants.  The defense lawyers say the new DNA evidence exonerates Scott and Springsteen.  After already testing more than 130 people, including friends of Springsteen and Scott, police and firefighters, and others, the prosecution is asking for more time to try and find the person matching the DNA from the crime.  Springsteen and Scott had confessed to the crimes under what their attorney's call coercion and psychological pressure, in addition to other people that confessed who the police later determined to be innocent.  The case will return to court August 12.

(S. Kreytak, “Suspects in Yogurt Shop Killings Released,” American-Statesman, June 25, 2009).  See Innocence