The Way of the Gun

The untold story of why Lenell Geter was freed

It was only after leaving the district attorney's office that Fowler decided to try to contact Geter. "I just felt he had a right to know how he had been cleared," he said. "That way, if he ever wanted to he would be able to explain it to his friends and family.

"I had read a number of articles in which his mother, in particular, had expressed dismay at the fact her son had been convicted of a crime. I thought maybe he would like to be able to tell the story to her."

For several weeks, Fowler left messages for Geter with a supervisor at E-Systems. His calls were never returned.

Lenell Geter leaves a Dallas courtroom in March 1984, the month in which District Attorney Henry Wade ordered all charges against Geter dropped. The case had attracted worldwide media attention, but the results of the reinvestigation of the Balch Springs Kentucky Fried Chicken robbery had never been reported.
Mark Graham
Lenell Geter leaves a Dallas courtroom in March 1984, the month in which District Attorney Henry Wade ordered all charges against Geter dropped. The case had attracted worldwide media attention, but the results of the reinvestigation of the Balch Springs Kentucky Fried Chicken robbery had never been reported.
Billy Fowler, who died in 1992, was assigned to investigate the case against Geter for his retrial.
Mark Graham
Billy Fowler, who died in 1992, was assigned to investigate the case against Geter for his retrial.


Now 43, Lenell Geter has distanced himself--mentally and physically--from the nightmare he was swept into back when an all-white jury found him guilty of a crime he hadn't committed. If there is anger, he hides it expertly.

Having lost his enthusiasm for work as an engineer after regaining his freedom, he left E-Systems and Texas and returned to South Carolina. Now married and the father of three daughters, his attention is focused on Lenell Geter Enterprises, an organization that conducts inspirational and motivational workshops at churches, schools and businesses. Today, he says, he no longer dwells on his days behind bars.

He was sitting in the meeting room of The Dallas Post Tribune, taking a break from greeting old friends and signing copies of his new book, when he finally heard the details of the investigation Fowler and Kinne had long ago conducted. And what was his reaction? Shaking his head, he first said he'd have to think about it. Then, after a while, he ticked off three words: "Surprising," he said, "and shocking...and belated."

And with that he smiled and volunteered a point many who followed his judicial travails might find surprising. "I do believe in the system," he said. "I was exonerated. And I'm free."

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