La. Death Row Inmate Cleared by DNA
A 38-year-old man wrongly convicted of raping and killing his 14-year-old step-cousin in 1997 was released Friday from Louisiana’s death row after his confession was determined to be false and DNA tests found him to be innocent.
Damon A. Thibodeaux was released at about 12:30 p.m. after spending 15 years on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, said Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. Thibodeaux was sentenced to death by lethal injection for raping, beating and strangling Crystal Champagne.
After his release, Thibodeaux was driven to New Orleans and given a hero’s welcome at a center for exonerated inmates.
“I hope in the future, cases like ours can be used as examples of what not to do during an investigation, interrogation and even during the court process — and make the system better by it instead of just putting these cases under a rug,” he said at a news conference with several exonerated death row inmates standing behind him.