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Dallas Man Freed After DNA Evidence Cleared Him & Midday Roundup

By KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – A Dallas man who spent 27 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault is free after being cleared by DNA evidence.

Johnny Pinchback became the 22nd person exonerated through DNA testing in Dallas County when a judge ordered his release Thursday on a personal recognizance bond.

A courtroom packed with family, friends and other exonerees burst into applause when the order ended a brief hearing.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins did not contest the finding that the 55-year-old Pinchback was wrongly convicted of raping two teenage girls in 1984. The girls identified Pinchback as their assailant. However, testing of material from the rape kit last year found another man's DNA.

Pinchback says faith and support from his family kept him motivated to fight for his innocence.

Aides: Ron Paul plans to run for president again

Campaign aides say Texas Rep. Ron Paul will run for president for a third time.

Aides said Paul will announce those plans on Friday while in New Hampshire. He formed a campaign exploratory committee last month.

The aides would speak only on background because the announcement is not yet official.

Paul ran for president in 1988 as a Libertarian and sought the Republican nomination in 2008. He amassed a large following with his libertarian views but it didn't translate into a significant number of delegates.

He calls for dramatically reducing government spending and scaling back management of the economy.

House passes bill to strengthen cockfighting law

The Texas House has approved a plan that would expand the state's ban on cockfighting and bolster the penalty against it.

Republican Rep. Wayne Christian's bill makes it a state jail felony to engage in cockfighting and would raise the penalty to make it equal to dogfighting.

The Austin American-Statesman reports the measure would make it illegal to attend cockfights or make money from them. It also would also ban owning or selling training equipment.

The bill would make it illegal to manufacture, buy, sell or possess "a gaff, slasher, or other sharp implement" designed to attach to the bird for fighting.

Although the bill received final approval in the House Wednesday it now goes to the Senate.

Texas land in worst drought stage nearly doubles

Nearly half of Texas is in the worst stage of drought, another record and almost double the amount of parched land from just a week ago.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday showed 47.7 percent of the state in exceptional drought. Last week's total of about 26 percent was the most in the 11-year history of the drought map.

The state just finished its driest seven-month period on record. The statewide average between October and April was 5.82 inches, .03 of an inch less than the previous record set at the end of March 1918.

The dry conditions are the result of a La Nina weather pattern that ranks as the sixth-strongest since 1949.

Rain has fallen across parts of the state this week.