Murder charge against Reyos formally dismissed

It’s official.

The murder charge against James Reyos, who was exonerated last month in the 1981 death of a Catholic priest, has been dismissed.

Court records released Sunday indicate Ector County District Court Denn Whalen dismissed the charge Nov. 7.

On Oct. 4, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declared Reyos innocent of the murder of Father Patrick Ryan, a murder he spent 20 years in prison for.

Reyos, 66, was convicted of beating Ryan, 49, to death at the Sage and Sand Motel in Odessa by an Ector County jury in June 1983 and sentenced to 38 years in prison. He served two decades before being paroled.

In March, attorneys from the Innocence Project of Texas put witness after witness on the stand in Whalen’s courtroom and each one testified there is absolutely no way Reyos could be responsible for the death of the Denver City priest.

More over, they said, recently discovered fingerprints linking three dead men to the murder.

After weighing that evidence, Whalen recommended in August the conviction be set aside in a 57-page document called Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.

The Court of Appeals agreed with Whalen, but the Ector County District Attorney’s Office had to file a motion to dismiss the indictment against Reyos stating his innocence.

Now that Whalen’s order is signed, the law requires the state to pay Reyos a lump sum of roughly $2.2 million and $80,000 a year for the rest of his life, his attorney, Allison Clayton has said.