A Dallas man who prosecutors say did not commit a 1990 rape for which he served 12 years in prison should be exonerated based on recent DNA testing he did not request, a judge recommended Friday.
The conviction of 57-year-old Michael Phillips should be vacated, Dallas County Criminal District Court Judge Gracie Lewis said. The matter now goes to the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals; it was not immediately clear when the court would make a ruling.
Dallas County district attorney Craig Watkins sought the exoneration after DNA testing identified another man as the culprit in the rape of a 16-year-old girl at a motel where both men lived.
Watkins has an ongoing project of reviewing untested rape kits, even without defendants initiating the request. Should the appeals court decide in Phillips' favor, it would be the 34th exoneration by Watkins' Conviction Integrity Unit.