Wednesday, December 07, 2011

27-years in prison, but declared innocent!

Thomas Haynesworth, 46, was the declared innocent by the Virginia Court of Appeals on Dec. 6, 2011, reports the Washington Post. He was released from prison last year after being imprisoned for 27 years having been convicted in three cases of rape and acquitted in a fourth (charges in a fifth case had been dropped), always insisting that he was innocent.

In 2005, former Virginia governor Mark Warner (D) ordered a review of cases in which DNA analysis of biological evidence might clarify the identity of offenders. Evidence in two of Haynesworth's convictions cleared him, and pointed to convicted rapist Leon Davis, who resembled Haynesworth and lived in the same neighborhood. After that, prosecutors agreed to review the other cases and concluded that the victims had wrongly identified Haynesworth.

This is a tremendous achievement by Virginia's system of justice. In many, if not most, jurisdictions, the attitude to correcting wrongful convictions is that expressed by former Virginia Attorney General Mary Sue Terry (D), "Evidence of innocence is irrelevant."

I commend Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) for joining Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project in the effort to ask the court to declare Haynesworth innocent.

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