Lawrence McKinney, a 61-year-old Tennesse man who served 31 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit is petitioning the state to compensate him $1 million for the 31 years of his life that were taken away. So far, they’ve only given him $75 dollars.
Way back in October of 1977, a woman from Memphis was raped in her home by two men. She later identified one of the rapists as her neighbor, Lawrence McKinney. In 1978, McKinney was convicted on burglary and rape charges, and sentenced to 115 years in prison.
However, 30 years later, DNA evidence cleared him of the charges in 2008. Upon his release in 2009, the Tennessee Department of Corrections gave him a $75 check. That’s it. $75 to start is life over.
“Because I had no ID it took me three months before I was able to cash it,” McKinney told CBS.
McKinney is now asking Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to exonerate him, however, the Tennessee Board of Parole denied McKinney’s request by a 7-0 vote at a hearing in September.
According to McKinney’s pastor John Hunn, McKinney has ‘worked hard to put his life back together and salvage the time he has left’.
“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.”
The Tennessee parole board has rejected Mckinney’s bid for formal exoneration twice. An exoneration would open the door to compensation. A former parole board member told CBS that she is not convinced McKinney is innocent. Even though prosecutors said that if DNA testing had been available at the time of the crime, “there would have been no prosecution.”
Patsy Bruce, who served on the parole board for over a decade, heard McKinney’s first exoneration case.
“In an exoneration hearing we have to have a lot of evidence, clear and convincing,”
When asked why the judgments of the judge and district attorney weren’t convincing enough, she replied, “Because they didn’t notice that they didn’t test everything ordered by the original judge to be tested.”
Jack Lowery, McKinney’s attorney, also spoke to CBS News:
“It is not justice for him not to receive compensation for being wrongfully imprisoned,” said Jack Lowery, McKinney’s lawyer.
Lowery has appealed the case to Gov. Bill Haslam, who has the final say.
“There has been one mistake made that sent him to prison. I trust that another is not made that does not allow him exoneration,” Lowery said.
Haslam’s decision has still not been made.