Justice For James Harry Reyos
Letters to the Governors of Texas
On 2 October 2000 James Harry Reyos wrote to George W. Bush, the then-Governor of Texas, saying:
‘Dear Governor Bush:
Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” There exist a great injustice here in Texas – still after eighteen long years! Governor Bush, I bring to your attention my unjust plight. For eighteen long years I have been incarcerated in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for a crime I NEVER committed. I can with all sincerity – knowing that I am telling you the honest truth! – assert that I DID NOT KILL FATHER PATRICK RYAN! I AM TOTALLY INNOCENT!
There exist substantial and credible evidence to prove my innocence. The evidence was presented during my trial, however, I was still wrongfully convicted. What formed the basis of my defense was an alibi showing that I was in the State of New Mexico when the brutal murder of Father Ryan occurred in Odessa, Texas, on Monday night December 21, 1981. my alibi is air-tight. There is NO doubt that I WAS in New Mexico when the crime occurred.
Many people who have knowledge of my case and who have re-examined it have all come to the same conclusion: that James Harry Reyos did not kill Father Patrick Ryan. The most remarkable person to assert his true feeling – and belief in my innocence! – is former Ector County prosecuting attorney Dennis Cadra who helped convict me in 1984. After reading, researching, and re-examining the trial transcript and evidence, Mr Cadra came to the “firm conclusion” that I was truly innocent of the murder of Father Patrick Ryan. Mr. Cadra came forward and publicly acknowledged his sincere belief in my innocence and asked that this injustice (my wrongful conviction) be rectified. He requested that I be pardoned and released from prison.
According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, it is the duty of all prosecuting attorneys to not convict but to see that justice is served. Mr. Cadra, recognizing that I was wrongfully convicted, sought to see that JUSTICE be served by requesting the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and former Governor Ann Richards intervene and render clemency action. Governor Richards wanted “JUSTICE” to be rendered (based upon the overwhelming and substantial evidence proving my innocence) by asking the Board of Pardons and Paroles to review my case. After reviewing my case, however, the Board of Pardons and Paroles denied a full pardon based upon my innocence (Board Minutes dated “7-3-92 Full Pardon Based Upon Innocence Denied”).
Governor Bush, I now appeal to you at this time as the leader of Texas to ask that you intervene on my behalf – on behalf of a truly innocent man! – to help bring this 18 year injustice to an end. Please, Governor, don’t give me “the deaf ear.”
You have intervened on behalf of several other cases involving innocent pleas. Upon a complete review of one case (the Henry Lee Lucas case), the Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended (“based upon innocence”) that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment. Upon receipt of the Board’s recommendation, you Governor Bush “signed” the recommendation for clemency. Obviously Governor, you believe in Mr. Lucas’ innocence, or else you wouldn’t have signed the recommendation for clemency. If Mr. Lucas can be afforded clemency, and JUSTICE (“based upon innocence”), why can’t I be afforded the same too?
Governor Bush, please don’t allow my 18 year injustice to be a further threat to justice here in Texas. I AM TRULY INNOCENT! Justice demands nothing less than a full pardon.
I was innocent yesterday! – I am innocent today! – I will be innocent in perpetuity!!!
Very truly yours,
James Harry Reyos
On June 9, 2003 James wrote to Governor Rick Perry:
Dear Governor Perry,
Twenty years ago tomorrow – on June 10, 1983 – I was wrongly convicted of a murder I DID NOT COMMIT. Why does a truly innocent man continue to languish in a Texas prison, despite substantial and credible evidence proving innocence? My Pardon Petition, which was filed on November 2, 2000 to the then Governor George W. Bush, should be on your desk in the process of being reviewed, with a formal decision made soon by your office.
I know in my heart, Governor Perry, that I AM TRULY INNOCENT of the murder of Father Patrick Ryan, a Catholic priest, from Denver city, Texas.
The evidence presented at trial overwhelmingly, substantially – and credibly! – PROVED my innocence. Even PRIOR to trial, the evidence PROVED my innocence. The following is taken verbatim from “Shadows Of A Doubt” by Howard Swindle, Investigative Reporter, DALLAS MORNING NEWS (Sunday, July 4, 1993):
“Lack of Evidence
In the 6-inch prosecution file on the homicide of Patrick Joseph Ryan, there are autopsy reports, lab results, interview statements and leads that had taken detectives to Denver City [TX], Plains [TX], and Albuquerque and Hobbs, NM.
Not in the file is any physical evidence to indicate that Mr. Reyos had ever been in Room 126 of the Sand and Sage Motel. Quite the contrary.
An FBI lab report dated April 27, 1983, noted ‘The five latent fingerprints and the two latent impressions are not the fingerprints or palm prints of Reyos.’, the FBI examiner wrote.
Wrote the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in Midland on May 30, 1983, ‘None of the numerous hair from the scene previously examined resembled head or pubic hair from the suspect (Reyos).’
Also in the file is a report written by Detective Jerry Smith, the primary Odessa Police Department investigator, six days after the death of Father Ryan: ‘At about 5:30 p.m., Det. Casey completed Reyos polygraph. Det. Casey advised that he felt like Reyos was truthful and was not involved in the homicide.’ “
So, PRIOR to trial, I WAS INNOCENT. Twenty years later, I AM STILL INNOCENT! Even Dennis Cadra, the former prosecuting attorney, believes I am truly innocent. He publicly declared that belief in 1991, in an 8-page letter to the then-Governor Ann Richards, saying:
“Despite my 16 years as a prosecutor, I came to the firm conclusion that it was physically impossible for Mr Reyos to have committed the crime and for which he has been in the Texas penitentiary for almost eight years.”
More recently, he declared, on TVs “American Justice” on Wednesday, April 23, 2003: “Mr Reyos couldn’t have, couldn’t have committed the murder.”
Governor Perry, I am truly innocent. Please don’t let me languish in Telford Unit prison any longer. I AM TRULY INNOCENT! “JUSTICE demands nothing less than a Full Pardon Based Upon Innocence.
Very truly yours,
James Harry Reyos.