Authorities are fitting Clay Chabot with an electronic monitor this week in anticipation of his release from prison Wednesday. Judge Lana Myers ruled on Friday that Chabot be released on bail pending a new trial -- if the Dallas County District Attorney decides to retry him for the murder of Galua Crosby in 1986.
“He was ecstactic,” says attorney Bruce Anton of Sorrels, Udashen & Anton in Dallas. “Absolutely ecstatic.”
Chabot has spent 21 years in prison after his alleged “accomplice,” Gerald Pabst, testified against him in court; Pabst made a deal with prosecutors that was not disclosed to the defense. He claimed that Chabot had attacked Crosby while he was in another room. In August, authorities revealed that a DNA test showed spermatozoa found in Crosby’s body was linked to Pabst, not Chabot, and thus his conviction was based on Pabst’s perjury. Chabot has been assisted in getting a DNA test by Anton and the New York-based Innocence Project.
“His sister has moved down from Ohio to stay with him pending trial at a house in Cedar Hill,” Anton says. He points out that the Court of Criminal Appeals has not yet ruled on Myers’ recommendation that his conviction be set aside and a new trial granted.
“It was a unique position she was in,” says Anton. “I don’t think there was much guidance to go by. It’s not at all out of the ordinary to set bail in cases that are reversed on appeal.”
But Mike Ware, special assistant to District Attorney Craig Watkins, says prosecutors still believe Chabot was involved in the crime and intend to retry him. They are re-examining evidence from Chabot’s first trial.
“That’s the posture they are maintaining,” says Anton. “They have emphasized time and time again that they intend to go to trial on it. Part of the problem in the trial was that there was information not disclosed to the defense. They seem to think they have new evidence.”
In late October, DNA results prompted Judge Myers to release Eugene Ivory Henton after he served time in prison for a sexual assault he did not commit. If Chabot is allowed to walk free, he will be the 14th person exonerated in Dallas County for a crime he didn’t commit. --Glenna Whitley