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Convict Cleared by DNA Evidence To Be Released

Convict Cleared by DNA Evidence To Be Released

Posted - Nov. 9, 2004 at 10:17 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP / KSL News) -- A man who spent 19 years in a Utah prison will be released after DNA evidence cleared him of a rape and murder he said he did not commit, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Beaver County Attorney Von Christiansen told Bruce Dallas Goodman's lawyer Monday evening that he has no plans to retry Goodman, 54.

Goodman was being processed Tuesday morning at the state prison in Gunnison, said Josh Bowland, the staff attorney at the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center who handled Goodman's DNA testing request.

From Gunnison, Goodman will be transported to the prison at Draper, where he will be formally freed, likely sometime in the afternoon.

Goodman was ecstatic, Bowland said.

"`So, I'm going home,"' Bowland quoted Goodman as saying when he heard the news. "I'm extremely excited. I can't wait to see Bruce."

"I remember Bruce responding with, wow, I finally get a chance to go home. And it just all the moment kind of set in, it was becoming that realistic," Bowland continued.

Goodman was convicted in the death his girlfriend, 21-year-old Sherry Ann Fales Williams of Salt Lake City. The woman was raped, sodomized, beaten to death and left bound just off an interstate exit eight miles north of Beaver in November 1984.

DNA testing done by the Salt Lake City-based Rocky Mountain Innocence Center last month concluded samples taken from Williams and the crime scene did not match Goodman's DNA.

A judge vacated Goodman's conviction Wednesday, and Christiansen had five days to decide whether to retry Goodman -- time he planned to use.

"This is an extremely important case, and I don't want to make any decision in a hasty manner," Christiansen said after the judge's order. "I am going to do what I feel is necessary to make a really good, informed decision."

During his 1986 trial, Goodman and two defense witnesses testified they were together in Stockton, Calif., the night Williams was found.

Goodman claimed he was in California after stealing his employer's truck, but prosecutors said the truck was found in Las Vegas the night before Williams died, and a service station attendant saw her and a man fitting Goodman's description there.

Goodman and Williams had been living together in Las Vegas, and Goodman testified she left him after the two had an argument, gathering her belongings and saying she planned to hitchhike home.

Goodman said he followed her and attempted to stop her until she reached the Interstate, the last time he saw her.

Prosecutors alleged in the trial that Goodman was angered when Williams told him she was returning to her estranged husband. An employee of the Peppermill Casino in Mesquite, Nev., identified Goodman at trial as the man she saw arguing with Williams at the casino in the early hours of Nov. 30. The victim's body was found that night.

Goodman was convicted in a bench trial and sentenced to five years to life in prison.

Goodman has been at the state prison in Gunnison. Right now he's being transferred to the Draper prison. He's expected to walk out of jail today at around 1:00.

After his formal release, Goodman is likely to join his girlfriend and head to Indiana, Bowland said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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