Fort Worth man wrongly sentenced to be released on bond
A Fort Worth man who served 24 years in jail after wrongly indicted and overconvicted is set to return home soon.
James Aaron Dyson, 41, was sentenced to 50 years in prison at 17 for shooting a man who killed his best friend. While Dyson admits the shooting took place, the then prosecutors accused him of involvement in organized crime and provided false evidence that Dyson was a member of the R-13 gang, which sets the guidelines for indictment and conviction improved.
Dyson has fought for his innocence for the past two decades, vehemently denying that he was a gang member or that the shooting was gang related. In August, Steve Conder of the Tarrant District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit investigated Dyson’s allegations and agreed.
“My affidavit is to ensure that judgments and verdicts are correct,” Sharen Wilson, the district attorney for Tarrant County, said in a statement emailed.
Dyson, attorney Chris Self and Conder went before a Tarrant County judge in March to represent their case and provide evidence as to why Dyson should be released from prison on time. Several childhood friends testified that Dyson was not a gang member and that the shooting was motivated by grief and anger over his friend’s death.
The killer was sentenced to 20 years less than Dyson’s charge of murder.
“The desired outcome is that Aaron’s story is heard and the appropriate charges are brought,” Self said ahead of the hearing. “He takes responsibility for what he did and the maximum sentence for that – aggravated assault – is 20 years.”
On Tuesday, prosecutors, the court and Dyson filed a statement in which they all agreed that he was entitled to relief because his conviction was obtained with false and misleading statements, Self said.
“As a result, Mr. Dyson is entitled to bail while the appeals court reviews the filing and makes the final decision,” Self wrote in an email. “In determining the bail, the court considered not only its own legal findings, but also Mr. Dyson’s community connections, employment opportunities, and overall proven rehabilitation and maturity. Getting Mr. Dyson out on bail is as low risk as it gets. “
Dyson is due to be taken to Tarrant County Jail, where he will be released for his family in about two to three weeks, a lawyer said.
“James Aaron Dyson has served his time,” wrote Wilson. “It is time for him to be released from prison.”
Dyson plans to live with his mother, Angie Auldridge, and stepfather, who both supported Dyson’s release and have struggled to get him home for more than two decades.
Dyson has several promising employment opportunities upon his release. This emerges from a motion to bail Dyson signed by District Attorney Sharen Wilson, Conder and Dyson’s attorney.
“These are warm invitations from people who truly believe in Mr. Dyson’s character and work ethic and who are personally invested in his success,” the motion reads.
The document also states: “Dyson is an example of the increased rehabilitation capacity that is typical of people entering the criminal justice system at a young age. He is no longer as prone to impulsiveness, risky behavior, and uncontrollable emotions as he was at the age of 17. “
In the meantime, the lower court’s decision has been sent back to the appellate court for review.
Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram
Nichole Manna is an award-winning investigative reporter for Star Telegram who specializes in criminal justice. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she was a reporter for newspapers in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska, and Kansas. She enjoys spending time with her two dogs, a dachshund named Opie and a three-legged terrier named Oliver. You can send her news tips to [email protected], 817-390-7684 or on Twitter @NicholeManna.