TN man wrongly imprisoned asks to be exonerated by Governor Haslam

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — These days Lawrence McKinney can’t seem to stay still. The 60-year old has spent enough time sitting in one place.

“How long were you in prison?” asked Omar Villafranca with CBS News.

“31 years, 9 months, 18 days and 12 hours,” replied McKinney.

“You have it down to the hours?”

“Yes, sir.”

A Memphis jury convicted McKinney of rape and burglary in 1978. The victim identified him as one of the two men who attacked her in her bedroom. He was sentenced to 115 years.

“What’s going through your mind now as you hear you are going to prison?”

“I still could not believe it cause I thought it was a dream or something.”

“In 2008, DNA testing of evidence scientifically excluded McKinney as a suspect.Prosecutors said “If this evidence had been available there would have been no prosecution.”

He was released and given $75 in 2009. Since then, McKinney has depended on odd jobs at his church just to pay the bills. Under Tennessee law he could be eligible for up to a million dollars in compensation but the Parole Board, which hears such cases, has rejected his request twice.

“In an Exoneration Hearing we have to have a lot of evidence, clear and convincing.”

Patsy Bruce served on Tennessee’s Parole Board for 12 years. She heard McKinney’s first exoneration case.

“The judgement of the court and the district attorney, why was that not clear and convincing for you?”

“Because they didn’t notice that they didn’t test everything ordered by the original judge to be tested.”

Prosecutors said the two samples not tested either had no DNA or were so degraded tests could not be performed.

“Do you feel like there is a guilty man walking the streets?” asked Villafranca.

“I have not been convinced he is innocent,” said Bruce.

“It is not justice for him not to receive compensation for being wrongfully imprisoned.”

McKinney’s Lawyer, Jack Lowery has appealed the case to Governor Bill Haslam – who has the final say.

“What would you tell the governor?”

“I’s ask the governor to please exonerate this man. He has suffered enough, there has been one mistake made that sent him to prison. I trust that another isn’t made.”

The Governor’s decision could come at any moment.

After waiting 31 years for his freedom, McKinney’s said he can wait a little longer.