Paul Garrett - 2000

Paul Garrett appears in night court in 2000 after being charged in the death of Velma Tharpe.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A man who served time in prison for the death of a woman in 2000 has been granted post-conviction relief, a Davidson County judge ruled on Monday.

Criminal Court Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton granted post-conviction relief to Paul Garrett, 47, after new DNA evidence was discovered that led Metro Police to charge Calvin Atchison II, 51, with first-degree murder for the June 2000 of Velma Tharpe, 30, who died from strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Garrett plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released from prison in December 2011, according to the Tennessee Department of Correction.

The Tennessee Innocence Project, which represented Garrett, issued a statement after the order was released.

"It is an honor to represent Paul Shane Garrett. We were pleased to receive the court's order vacating his conviction and shining light on the true facts of his case. For Mr. Garrett and his family, this has been a long wait for justice. The Tennessee Innocence Project represents people across our state asserting actual innocence. Mr. Garrett is not the first person whose wrongful conviction has been exposed, and he won't be the last."

Cold Case Detective Mike Roland and now retired Sgt. Pat Postiglione learned of DNA evidence in the Tharpe case that implicated Atchison in the summer of 2011.

Atchison was taken into custody in May after a grand jury indictment.

Garrett was charged with the murder of Tharpe, a prostitute, whose body was found in a north Nashville alley on June 15, 2000. Garrett eventually pled guilty to a charge of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison.

 

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