Charles Chatman left a Dallas courtroom Thursday, with his arms raised in victory. The 42-year-old man was released after spending 26 years in prison for rape that DNA tests proved he did not commit.
“I’m bitter. I’m angry,” Chatman said. He continued: “But I’m not angry or bitter to the point where I want to hurt anyone or get revenge.”
Chatman said that his race proved to be a factor in his conviction, noting that there was one black member of the jury.
In 1981, Chatman was arrested for aggravated sexual assault after a woman pointed him out in a lineup as the man who raped her. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison.
Although Chatman lived five houses from the victim, he said that he did not know her.
“I was convicted because a black man committed a crime against a white woman,” Chatman said. He continued: “And I was available.”
This case made Chatman the 15th Dallas County inmate since 2001 to be exonerated by DNA testing.