Almost 14 years ago, Michael Phillips of Dallas, Texas, was accused of a crime he did not commit. Now, thanks to the testing of a DNA rape kit, he has been cleared of all charges. In 1990, Phillips was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl at a hotel where he lived and worked. The victim stated that she was raped by a black man in a ski mask. During the rape, she pulled off the rapist mask and according to police “immediately recognized Phillips” as a man she had seen at the hotel.
Phillips was later confronted by at least eight cops with guns drawn who told him he was under arrest for rape. Phillips denied the accusation but the victim picked him out of a photo lineup and began his nightmare of 12 years behind bars. Because he was facing a possible sentence of 99 years behind bars for the rape and the fact that he had a criminal record for aggravated burglary he took a plea deal. According to USA Today, Phillips felt that race would play a part in his trial because he was a black man being accused of the rape of a white teenage girl in Texas. Phillips pleaded guilty as his defense attorney advised him and was sentenced to 12 years in prison and denied parole. When he was released from prison in 2002 he was arrested again for failure to register as a sex offender and spent another 6 months in prison. As far as Phillips was concerned, he had put the past behind him and gave up on claiming his innocence.
However, thanks to Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, Phillips has been cleared of all charges related to his rape conviction. Watkins created the nation’s first Conviction Integrity Unit, which investigates wrongful conviction claims. Friday, his office will exonerate Michael Phillips, the 34th wrongfully imprisoned person cleared by Watkins according to USA Today. The unit reviews cases where DNA evidence is present and the rape kit which was tested showed that Phillips did not commit the rape. The testing found that another man named Lee Marvin Banks was the actual rapist. Because of the statute of limitations, Banks will not face charges for the rape of the 16-year-old girl.
Now Phillips is scheduled to receive $80,000 for each year of prison he served and another $80,000 for the rest of his life.