Lawrence McKinney served 31 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He is now petitioning the state to compensate him $1 million for the years of his life that were taken away. All he’s gotten so far is $75.
In October 1977, a Memphis woman was raped in her home by two intruders. She later identified one of them as her neighbor, Lawrence McKinney, who was 22 at the time. He was convicted on rape and
burglary charges in 1978 and sentenced to 115 years in jail.
DNA evidence cleared him of the charges in 2008, and when he was released in 2009, the Tennessee Department of Corrections gave him a $75 check to restart his life.
McKinney told CNN:
“Because I had no ID it took me three months before I was able to cash it,”
Now the 61-year-old is asking Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to exonerate him.
The Tennessee Board of Parole, which makes recommendations to the governor, voted against McKinney’s exoneration by a 7-0 vote at a hearing in September.
According to John Hunn, McKinney’s pastor and most ardent supporter, the board cited a list of 97 infractions that McKinney incurred while he was in jail, including the alleged assault of a fellow inmate, who testified against McKinney at the hearing.
McKinney told the board he’d been in prison for years, and that “only the strong survive,” Hunn said. Hunn testified at the hearing on McKinney’s behalf.
“Lawrence has told that story at our church,” Hunn said. “He doesn’t deny that story. He was in prison, man.”
The parole board also knew that 28 years into his sentence, McKinney admitted to the burglary charge he was convicted of. McKinney said his lawyers at the time told him that if he wanted any chance of being released early, he would need to admit to something.
Since his release, Hunn said, McKinney has worked hard to put his life back together and salvage the time he has left.
In 2010 he married a pen pal with whom he corresponded during his time in jail. The two attend Immanuel Baptist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee, where McKinney participates in a Bible study five nights a week and where he has found a supportive community that has rallied around him time and time again.
“Although I’ve spent more than half of my life locked up for a crime I did not do, I am not bitter or angry at anyone, because I have found the Lord and married a good wife,” McKinney said.
“All I ask is that I be treated right and fair for what has happened to me. I didn’t do nothing, and I just want to be treated right.”
Source – CNN