RIP Craig Watkins
Former Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins, 56, dies at his home
Craig Watkins, a former Dallas County District Attorney, died on December 12; he was 56. According to Fox4, he passed away at his home on Tuesday morning. Cause of death was not known.
Watkins was elected in 2006 and served as District Attorney until 2015. After he left office, he opened his own law firm on MLK Boulevard in South Dallas.
Beyond his history-making status as the first Black DA for Dallas, Watkins created a Conviction Integrity Unit that earned national praise for its exoneration of inmates who'd been imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. According to NBC5, the unit reviewed more than 300 cases and helped free 25 wrongly convicted inmates.
He was also a hero in the animal advocacy world as the first elected official in Dallas to take the animal cruelty issue seriously, creating an Animal Cruelty unit led by acclaimed prosecutor David Alex - a unit that subsequent DA Susan Hawk allowed to flounder.
A Dallas native, Watkins was a 1990 graduate of Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, and received his law degree from the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth in 1994.
Current Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot said in a statement that he was "saddened to learn of the passing of my former colleague Craig Watkins. Craig was bright and ambitious and for his life to end so prematurely is a tragedy, however, he leaves behind a powerful legacy."
"He made history as the first elected African-American district attorney in Texas," Creuzot said. "His fierce focus on the prosecution of child abuse cases and his creation of the first Conviction Integrity Unit in the nation are testaments to his vision and ability to effect change. Craig was perfectly human, and those who knew him are better for it. I am proud to have known him, to have worked with him, and to have been elected to the same office he held. He will be missed.”