Innocent man spends 10 years in prison for child sex assault before Tarrant County dismisses charges

A man who was sent to prison for a sexual assault case in Fort Worth has been declared innocent and the charges against him were dismissed.

Roger Hawkins Jr. was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child in 1993. He served his 10-year prison sentence but maintained his innocence over the years.

Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson said her office’s Conviction Integrity Unit reviewed the case with Hawkins’ court-appointed attorney.

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They determined prosecutors in 1993 withheld evidence that was favorable to Hawkins, including an alibi. They also determined his attorney at the time "provided him ineffective assistance of counsel," the DA’s office said in a news release.

"The criminal justice system failed Mr. Hawkins," CIU Chef Steven Conder said. "He was wrongly convicted because there was no thorough investigation of his case or defense of him."

In August, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that Hawkins had "clear and convincing evidence that he is actually innocent." The court vacated his conviction.

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On Tuesday, a district judge dismissed the sexual assault charges against him.

"This is about setting the record straight," DA Wilson said.

"Mr. Hawkins’ life was fundamentally altered by mistakes made and I’m proud we were able to correct them," Conder said.

Hawkins was close to 20 years old when he was convicted. He is now 49.