Rape charge thrown out against wrongly convicted Dallas man

DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas man who spent 27 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit saw the aggravated rape charge against him officially dismissed.

"It's just a relief," Charles Chatman, 47, said Tuesday after his court appearance. "I don't have to worry about court no more."

Chatman, 47, won his freedom Jan. 3 after new DNA testing excluded him as the rapist in a 1981 sexual assault. He is the 15th inmate from Dallas County since 2001 to be freed by DNA testing, and he served more time than any of the others.

Dallas has freed more inmates after DNA testing than any other county nationwide, according to statistics from the Innocence Project, a New York-based legal center that specializes in overturning wrongful convictions. Texas leads the country in prisoners freed by DNA testing, with at least 30 since 2001.

Chatman was 20 when the rape victim picked him from a lineup. She identified him in court as the attacker, and serology tests showed that the type of blood found at the crime scene matched that of Chatman, along with 40 percent of black males.

Chatman's alibi was that he was working at the time of the assault, a claim supported by his sister, who was also his employer. Nevertheless, he was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 1981 and sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Texas test-prep company, SAT owners agree to end jabs

PLANO (AP) — A Dallas-area test-preparation company and the owner of the SAT and PSAT exams have agreed to a voluntary gag order after a week of public fighting over their dueling lawsuits.

The agreement between Plano-based Karen Dillard College Prep and College Board means neither party can talk to others about their federal lawsuits, according to court records.

College Board filed suit last week in federal court in Dallas, accusing Dillard's company of improperly using copyrighted College Board material to create its own test-prep curriculum. College Board officials said Dillard built lesson plans on unauthorized copies of the SAT and PSAT.

Dillard denied any wrongdoing and filed a countersuit Monday accusing College Board officials of obtaining her customer lists and business strategies from a disgruntled former employee. College Board is trying to drive her out of business, Dillard said at the time.

She is seeking a temporary restraining order to keep College Board officials from using the records against her student customers. College Board has said it is considering throwing out the SAT scores Dillard's customers.

Hispanic group calls for

boycott of Houston Rodeo

HOUSTON (AP) — A group of Hispanic leaders said Tuesday that Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officials haven't done enough to include Hispanics, so they are calling for a boycott of the three-week show that starts Monday.

"We request our friends across the whole state of Texas not to attend the Houston Livestock Show," said former state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos.

Among complaints from the newly-formed group VIVE Tejano-Houston — made up of representatives from the Tejano music industry, Houston-area politicians and members of other professional organizations — is the type of performers at the show's main venue on Go Tejano Day.

Ruben Cubillos, co-founder of the group, said that they object to the hiring of non-Tejano performers to play at the show's main venue that day.

Leroy Shafer, the show's chief operating officer, said Go Tejano Day is about Hispanic culture, not just one type of music. This year's Go Tejano Day on March 16 will feature Duelo, a norteno band from Roma, and Los Horoscopos de Durango, a duranguense act from Chicago.

He said that a Tejano act won't take center stage because the genre's popularity has been waning. Tejano bands are scheduled to play on smaller stages.

Show organizers say this isn't the first time Go Tejano Day lacked a traditional Tejano artist on the main stage.

McCain not ready to talk about running mate

TYLER (AP) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain isn't ready to speculate on a running mate.

"We haven't secured the nomination yet," McCain said Tuesday in an interview with the Tyler Morning Telegraph. "Governor Huckabee is still in the race, and it would be disrespectful to him to start that kind of planning now. It's still a contested race. We'll have plenty of time for that later."

McCain was set to make campaign appearances Wednesday in Tyler and San Antonio ahead of next week's Texas primary.

McCain said he is moving forward to try to unite the Republican party.

"If we are successful next Tuesday in winning (Texas and Ohio), we will have secured the nomination earlier than in any contested Republican race in history. That's because the calendar has been accelerated so much," he told the newspaper.

"We still have work to do to unite the party, and we'll continue that work," McCain said.

On another subject, McCain said he will continue to use faith-based organizations to help address many of the nation's social problems.

"Success with faith-based organizations is one of the accomplishments that President Bush has achieved that probably hasn't gotten as much credit as it's due," he said.

McCain said he was benefiting from independent Ralph Nader, 74, entering the race.

"At least he's older than me," said the 71-year-old McCain.

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