Marion Sayles Was Found Guilty Yesterday of a Brutal 1983 Rape. The Man Who Was Wrongly Convicted Wants an Apology.

James Williams
James Williams

Back in April, Raymond Jackson and James Curtis Williams once again found themselves in a Dallas County courtroom, some 28 years after they were sentenced to life in prison the 1983 rape and assault of a 26-year-old Highland Park woman. This time, the mood was different. DNA evidence proved that Jackson and Williams hadn't committed the crime. They were exonerated.

The DNA evidence also pointed to two other men, Marion Sayles and Frederick Anderson, both already serving long prison sentences for unrelated offenses, as the likely attackers. Both were subsequently charged with attempted capital murder.

Sayles was convicted by a Dallas County jury yesterday. During the two-day trial, the victim, using the psuedonym Mary Smith, recounted the attack and its aftereffects. According to the Morning News, Sayles and, allegedly, Anderson, abducted Smith from a McKinney Avenue parking lot on November 19, 1983 "pistol-whipped her, sexually assaulted her, shot her in the buttocks when she tried to escape and left her to die near Interstate 45 and Overton Road as they drove off in her station wagon."

Smith, who testified that she has since undergone six surgeries and contracted hepatitis c through a blood transfusion, now lives in Canada as a floral designer and events planner. The News reports she will return to testify in Anderson's trial.

Smith, of course, hasn't been the only person to suffer as a result of the attack. Jackson and Williams have spent half their lives in prison thanks to a wrongful conviction, which was based on Smith's testimony.

"I'm very happy for Ms. Smith, but at the same time, I feel like enough justice has not been done for me," Williams told WFAA after the trial. "I've never received a letter, and no kind of apology or nothing from Ms. Smith."

There are no grudges, he says, but some acknowledgement would be nice.

That's not always as easy as it sounds. As our Anna Merlan explored in May, for rape victims who have convinced themselves -- and, ultimately, jurors -- that the wrong man is guilty, coming to terms with their innocence can be a fraught process.

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