Updated on February 16, 2018, at 1:53 p.m. ET
In 1987, Jeffrey Young was robbed and killed, and his body was left on a street in the poor neighborhood of West Dallas. Benjamine Spencer was tried and convicted for the attack.
Spencer was black, 22 years old, and recently married. Young was 33 and white, and his father was a senior executive for Ross Perot, one of the most prominent businessmen in Dallas. No physical evidence connected Spencer to the murder. Instead, he was convicted based on the testimony of three eyewitnesses and a jailhouse informant who claimed Spencer confessed to the crime. Spencer has now been in prison for most of his life.
From behind bars, Spencer amassed evidence to support his claim of innocence, and secured the assistance of Centurion Ministries, a group that re-examines cases of prisoners like him. Together, they were able to convince a Texas judge of Spencer’s innocence. In investigating this story, not only did we confirm Centurion’s findings, but we’ve gathered new, exculpatory evidence, some of which appears first in this special, three-episode series of Radio Atlantic.
Despite the exculpatory evidence that has emerged since Spencer’s incarceration, he has few prospects for securing a new trial, or parole. Just after this story was published, on February 16, 2018, we received word that Spencer was again denied parole, as he has been every year since he became eligible. This comes as no surprise. The district attorney and the family of the victim both opposed his parole.