Wrongly Convicted Man Who Spent 31 Years in Prison Was Compensated Just $75
Lawrence McKinney was falsely accused of burglary and rape at age 22.
A falsely accused Tennessee man who spent 31 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit was compensated just $75.
That was back in 2009 after DNA evidence cleared Lawrence McKinney of a rape involving his neighbor in 1977. Since then, McKinney told CBS News he's worked odd jobs at his church just to pay the bills.
While McKinney has been spared an entire lifetime behind bars, he says he's lost years he'll never get back.
"I don’t have no life, all my life was taken away," said McKinney, who is now 61.
According to the Innocence Project, McKinney was convicted in Shelby County Criminal Court on June 22, 1978 after the victim identified him in court as one of her two attackers.
He was sentenced to 100 years in prison. The other co-defendant also was convicted and sentenced to prison.
In 2008, tests of bodily fluid from the victim’s bed linen revealed a mixture of stains from three people — none of whom was McKinney.
On June 30, 2009, McKinney's conviction was vacated and the charges were dismissed. He was released on July 20, 2009 with the check for $75, which he said he couldn't even cash for months because he had no ID.
Despite twice petitioning the parole board, McKinney has received no formal exoneration because the board felt there wasn't sufficient proof of his innocence despite his vacated conviction.
And McKinney needs that exoneration to get any real compensation from the state of Tennessee, where he could be eligible for up to $1 million.
"It is not justice for him not to receive compensation for being wrongfully imprisoned," said Jack Lowery, McKinney’s lawyer.
With McKinney at an apparent impasse with the parole board, his last hope now lies with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.
Lowery hopes his client will be the first person the governor exonerates. And in the meantime, a petition to Gov. Haslam was created on Change.org to potentially sway him.
"Lawrence reminds us that we must have faith. He is currently working toward becoming a preacher, because, as he says, 'With my situation, I feel like people could get the hope to make it through anything,'" the petition reads.
"All of us in his community and his church are angry about what happened; we feel vengeful. But he does not. He says he doesn’t have time. It’s amazing."
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