Based on statements from the District Attorney’s office, it appears that Texas wrongly convicted Michael Blair and sentenced him to death in 1994 for the sexual assault and murder of 7-year-old Ashley Estell. The case led to the passage of “Ashley’s Laws” to increase punishments for such offenses. Collin County District Attorney John Roach announced that new DNA tests show no physical evidence linking Blair to the crime. The only forensic evidence that pointed to Blair for the kidnap-murder was hair evidence; new DNA evidence has shown that the hair belonged to another person. D.A. Roach said, “There is no good faith argument to support the current conviction in light of the facts and the law as they now exist.”

Blair has always maintained his innocence in this case and Roach announced that they have another “person of interest” in the case. That man, who showed suspicious behavior after the murder, has since died. The D.A.’s office had assembled a team of experts in November 2006 that spent more than $47,000 and 5,000 hours on the case. Experts do not expect a new trial, which was approved by the judge presiding over the defense’s motion to overturn the conviction. Regardless of the outcome of this case, Blair will remain incarcerated for life for other crimes he confessed to in 2004. This case now returns to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for further review based on the lower court’s conclusions.
(A. Estell, “Collin County district attorny says evidence doesn’t link Blair to ‘93 killing of Ashley Estell,”, Dallas Morning News, May 24, 2008). See Innocence. DPIC adds cases to its Innocence List once a death row inmate’s conviction is overturned AND the state indicates it is dropping charges. DPIC does not make its own subjective judgment about the facts of the case nor does it require innocence of un-related crimes for inclusion on the list. One hundred and twenty-nine (129) inmates have been exonerated and freed from death row since 1973.