Crime

Local cold cases may now be more easily prosecuted when suspects are identified through new DNA evidence.

Congressman John Carter introduced the Justice Served Act at a news conference Thursday in Georgetown that he held jointly with Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick, Sheriff Robert Chody and Allison Clayton, deputy director with the Texas Innocence Project.

The legislation will help fund through federal grants the prosecution of local violent cold cases, give victims and families justice and make sure that the right perpetrators are held accountable for the crimes.

HR 4854: Justice Served Act of 2018 amends the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000. It was signed by President Donald Trump on Tuesday Oct. 9 after its initial introduction on Jan. 19 by Carter.

The act provides additional resources to state and local prosecutors and for other purposes, and it doesn’t decrease or limit the availability of other funds.

A local man’s life could have been changed much earlier than it was through the Justice Served Act.

Johnny Pinchback, who grew up in Temple and Cameron, was convicted Oct. 5, 1984, of the March 22, 1984 assault of two Dallas teenage girls at gunpoint. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison, and spent 27 years in prison before he was proven innocent by new DNA evidence.

The girls were approached by an armed man who forced them to go into a nearby field, tied them up and raped them before leaving on foot. The girls walked to a nearby house and called Dallas police. They saw a car shortly after the attack and wrote down the license plate number, which was Pinchback's.

Pinchback was exonerated after DNA was done on physical evidence from the 1984 case. The rest of the evidence was either destroyed or lost. He was released from prison on May 12, 2011, and the charges were dismissed.

Pinchback was the 26th wrongfully imprisoned Dallas County man granted his freedom and the 22nd cleared by DNA evidence since 2001. Pinchback was cleared by attorneys with the Innocence Project.

In 2013, Pinchback told a class of students at Wheatley Alternative School that he worked with the Innocence Project to help free prisoners who were wrongly convicted.