DALLAS — A man serving a life sentence for two sexual assault convictions while he was in high school was freed Monday because prosecutors withheld evidence that might have cleared him.
Antone Lynelle Johnson, 31, was sentenced in 1996 to life in prison for having sex with a 13-year-old when he was 17 and on probation for a prior assault.
Prosecutors withheld evidence that would have raised doubts in both cases. One girl told prosecutors Johnson didn't rape her, and the other gave conflicting statements.
Johnson did not find out about either comment until this year, the Dallas Morning News reported.
His grandmother, who raised Johnson, told the newspaper she couldn't wait to see him. "I just want to hug him. Thank God," Lela Field said.
Prosecutors in Dallas County, where a nation-high 19 inmates have been exonerated by DNA evidence, supported overturning Johnson's first conviction and his life sentence. Johnson was released after a state district judge recommended setting aside the conviction. A higher court will ultimately decide his case.
No criminal charge exists in Texas for a prosecutor who commits a "Brady violation." The name refers to a Supreme Court ruling that state prosecutors violate a defendant's constitutional rights if they withhold evidence favorable to the defense.