Roy Criner

On September 27, 1986, Deanna Ogg, 16, of Porter, Texas was raped, then bludgeoned and stabbed to death in east Montgomery County, Texas.  Authorities said the murder weapon was believed to be a tire tool.  Investigators said that a "process of elimination" and an informant's statements led investigators to Roy Wayne Criner, then 21, who was charged with her murder on October 28, 1986.  Patricia Ogg, Deanna's mother, said at the time that her daughter's body was so badly beaten and mutilated that she believed more than one person was responsible.

But prosecutors could not produce enough physical evidence to prove that Roy killed the girl.  The murder charge was dismissed, and Roy was charged with aggravated sexual assault.  At his trial in 1990, a chemist testified for the prosecution that Roy's blood type matched semen samples taken from Deanna's body.  Three witnesses claimed, with varying degrees of inconsistency, that Roy bragged about having had sex with a hitchhiker whom he threatened with a screwdriver.  Apparently forgetting that the murder weapon was originally believed to be a tire tool, the state claimed that Deanna's wounds were "consistent with" a screwdriver.  Roy was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison. 

In 1997, DNA testing by CellMark, a private lab, determined that Roy Criner was not the source of the sperm found on Deanna's body.  Montgomery County prosecutors requested a second test by a Texas Department of Public Safety lab.  The results confirmed the CellMark findings, excluding Roy Criner.  District Judge Michael Mayes agreed with Roy's lawyers— if the DNA evidence had been available at Roy's trial, Roy probably would not have been convicted.  Judge Mayes sent the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals with a recommendation that Roy be granted a new trial.

In May 1998, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Judge Mayes' recommendation, claiming that "overwhelming, direct evidence" pointed to Roy as Deanna's lone assailant.

What evidence?  Bob Burtman of the Houston Press sought answers to that question in official records and over two dozen interviews.  He learned that:

  • No fingerprints or hairs linked Roy to Deanna.
  • The testimony of witnesses contained significant inconsistencies.
  • A cigarette butt was found at the crime scene, but Roy doesn't smoke.
  • The screwdriver found in Roy's truck had been tested and showed no traces of blood.
  • A pubic hair found in Deanna's underwear was neither Deanna's nor Roy's.
  • Tire tracks at the scene were made by pick up truck with single rear wheels, while Roy's pick up truck had dual rear wheels.
  • Clay Strange of the Travis County DA's office says, "DNA testing is not 99 percent accurate, it's 100 percent accurate, when done properly."  Yet in Montgomery County and in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, being excluded—TWICE—by DNA is not enough.  They have the only thing that interests them—a conviction. 

    And what about Deanna Ogg?  How is she served by locking up the wrong man and letting the guilty go free?  Her brother, James Ogg, says, "They ought to pull in eveybody [who knew Deanna] and say 'DNA test on everyone.'  They will find the person."

    But as long as they've got Roy Criner, they don't have to bother with that.


     

    Read Frontline's riveting expose on the Criner case and similar cases of proven innocence.
    Visit Roy's Website and learn how you can help Free Roy Criner.

     
    Innocent Imprisoned
    How the System Works
    Truth in Justice