(AP) – The Texas Supreme Court has denied the request for compensation payments to an inmate who was wrongfully convicted for murder but confessed to raping children while in prison.
Michael Blair was convicted in 1994 for the murder of a 7-year-old girl and sentenced to death. During his trial he staunchly maintained he was innocent, and in 2008, a state Court of Appeals cleared him of the charge based on DNA evidence.
While Blair was awaiting execution in 2003, he confessed to sexually abusing children and is currently serving four life sentences for those crimes.
Since 2009, Blair has requested more than $1 million in compensation from the Texas comptroller under the state’s Tim Cole Act, under which a person wrongfully convicted is entitled to compensation. Cole was wrongfully convicted of raping a fellow student in 1985 and died in prison. He was posthumously cleared of the crime.
However, the law says payments must stop if that person is convicted of a felony after the date they become eligible for compensation.
Blair wants compensation for the time he spent in prison between 1993 and 2004, when he was convicted of the child sexual abuse charges.
The court said Friday the act’s wording “is convicted” can be reasonably read to refer to the status of the inmate and not only to the moment the person was found guilty by a court.
The law denies compensation to a person “regardless of when the conviction was adjudicated, whether before or after he became eligible for compensation,” the opinion said.
Blair’s attorney, Roy Greenwood, told the Associated Press that he’ll file a motion for a rehearing.
“This opinion makes so little sense, I can’t wrap my head around it,” Greenwood said in a phone interview.
Jeff Blackburn, who helped write the Tim Cole Act and chief counsel of The Innocence Project of Texas, said it would have been “a freakish result” if Blair received compensation.
Blackburn concedes Greenwood technically has a good argument, but said, “I’m happy (the law) is not being used to give money to help people who don’t deserve it.”
The intent of the law was to “help innocent people get enough money to make a new life,” Blackburn said.
That view was shared by the state’s comptroller when denying Blair’s claim, since it is almost impossible that he will ever be released.
In a dissenting vote, Justice Debra H. Lehrmann says “is convicted” refers to the act of conviction, not the state of being convicted _ thus making Blair eligible for payments for the years he spent on death row for a murder he did not commit.
The killing for which Blair was wrongfully convicted prompted legislators to pass tough sexual-predator measures called “Ashley’s Laws.”
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food