Judge Who Had Chance to Free Stephen Brodie in '94 Gets Another Chance This Morning

Jeff Carlton at the Associated Press was the one who, in July, first offered the story of Stephen Brodie -- the deaf man who, in 1991, was detained by Richardson police for stealing quarters out of a soda machine and ended up pleading guilty to the unsolved sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl. Brodie was 19 at the time, and confessed to the crime only after 18 straight hours of questioning by the Richardson PD without an attorney present. But at least one officer -- a Dallas detective -- didn't believe him. No matter: The guilty plea landed him in prison for five years -- even after evidence surfaced in 1994 that a fingerprint on the girl's windowsill belonged to a man who'd pleaded guilty to a sexual assault. Brodie got more time tacked on in recent years for failing to register as a sex offender.

Carlton and the AP have been fighting Richardson PD's refusal to turn over records related to this case; the department says "there is no legitimate public interest in the case," though that's for the Attorney General's Office to decide. But there's more pressing news: At 9 this morning, Brodie and attorney Michelle Moore, with the Dallas County District Attorney's blessing and backing, will go before Judge Lena Levario and ask, finally, that he be cleared of a crime he did not commit. An exoneration is expected. But as Carlton notes, she had her chance once, in 1994: "Judge Lena Levario denied the appeal, ruling that Brodie's confession outweighed the fingerprint evidence."

Update at 12:45 p.m.: Brodie's conviction was overturned this morning.

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