Murder Conviction of Steven Mark Chaney Set Aside 25 Years Later

DALLAS (WBAP/KLIF) – The man convicted of murder in the 1987 death of a Dallas couple is cleared after spending 25 years in prison.

Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals officially set aside the murder conviction of Steven Mark Chaney who spent 25 years in prison. The
court determined that Chaney was entitled to relief on the basis of actual innocence. According to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, scientific advancements proved that mark evidence presented at trial was faulty.

“This is a joyous day for Steven Chaney and his family, which was a long time coming,” said Conviction Integrity Chief Cynthia Garza. “It
demonstrates why the Conviction Integrity Unit is so vital. We work very hard to investigate claims of actual innocence, to determine whether new evidence gives rise to the conclusion that a convicted defendant was not the person who committed the offense,” she added.

On June 20, 1987, the bodies of John and Sally Sweek were found stabbed to death in their apartment. Police also found what they believed to be a human bite mark on John’s left forearm. Chaney was tried twice with the first trial ending in a mistrial. Part of the State’s case included testimony from two forensic odontologists that a mark found on John’s left forearm was a human bite mark made by Chaney— claiming, “there was only a one in a million chance that it belonged to someone other than Chaney.”
In its ruling, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals wrote, “When weighing Chaney’s newly discovered evidence against the State’s trial evidence, we concluded that Chaney has shown by clear and convincing evident that ‘no reasonable juror would have convicted him in light of the new
evidence.’ Chaney has proven that he is actually innocent.”

Close to 40 people have been exonerated since the integrity unity was established.

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