A Texas court has heard evidence in support of a man who claims he was wrongfully convicted of the murder of a Co Limerick priest in the Lone Star State, 40 years ago.
In 1983, James Reyos was convicted of murdering Fr Patrick Ryan, 49, a native of Doon, Co Limerick, even though Mr Reyos had an airtight alibi and swore he was innocent after recanting a drunken admission he had made a year after the murder.
Now, forty years on the Ector County district attorney’s office in Texas is finally listening to Reyos, and is actually supporting his appeal to have his murder conviction quashed.
Fr Ryan’s naked, beaten and slashed body was discovered in Room 126, Sand and Sage Motel, Odessa, 80 miles from his home, on December 21, 1981.
Evidence of finger prints found in the motel room, which was thought to have been lost, was recently discovered, and which points to three other males being the chief suspects for Fr Ryan’s killing, but whom are all dead.
An evidentiary hearing to present evidence of Mr Reyos’ innocence was heard before Ector County District Court, Texas, late on Friday night Irish time.
A statement released in the early hours of Saturday by Mr Reyos’ attorney Allison Clayton, who is also deputy director of the Innocence Project of Texas (IPTX), read: “The hearing today was just the beginning of more than one truly heinous injustices being corrected. In my time practicing I have never seen a case like this where the prosecution is fighting in tandem with the defense team.”
“Today hopefully marks the beginning of true justice for both Mr Reyos, and Father Patrick Ryan. We look forward to the trial court’s ruling in this matter and certainly anticipate that the legion of followers supporting and advocating for James will be nothing less than a resounding demand for justice to prevail,” it added.
A spokeswoman for IPTX, which has contributed to the exoneration and release of 28 wrongfully convicted Texans, said: “We are now waiting for a recommendation from the district judge on the evidence presented today. It could take up to a few months for the judge to issue his recommendation. If he recommends that James be exonerated, it will then go to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for a final ruling.”