“Siblings Pin Hopes on Polygraph”

Jim Henderson of the Houston Chronicle Dallas bureau reports. Excerpt:

FORT WORTH — Sometime in the next few days, James Byrd will take the most important test of his life.

If he passes, he soon could walk out of prison, free for the first time in nearly five years.

If he flunks, he could stay behind bars until he is an old man.

Polygraph tests are not admissible evidence in criminal courts, but because of the strange circumstances of his case, prosecutors have agreed to ask for his release if they are convinced he is telling the truth.

“We’re open to taking another look at it,” said Assistant District Attorney Alan Levy.

His boss, Tarrant County District Attorney Tim Curry, agreed.

“We’re sure not going to keep him there if he doesn’t belong,” he recently told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

From the time he was arrested and charged with robbery by threat, Byrd, 38, has sworn that he did not belong in prison, but it took intervention by a University of Houston law student and a subsequent televised confession by his older brother, Donnie Johnson, to get anyone’s attention.

Johnson, 45, has taken — and passed — a polygraph test in which he admitted to the crime for which his brother was convicted, and now it’s Byrd’s turn.

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