VA Man Exonerated After Doing 27 Years
A Virginia appeals court declared Thomas Haynesworth an innocent man Tuesday, clearing his name and acknowledging that he spent 27 years behind bars for rapes he did not commit.
It is the first time the state has issued a “writ of actual innocence” in a rape case without the certainty of DNA evidence. Haynesworth, 46, was supported by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and two state prosecutors — all of whom concluded that he was mistakenly identified by a rape victim as he walked to a Richmond market for sweet potatoes and bread one February afternoon in 1984.
“It’s a blessing,’’ Haynesworth said as he stood with his attorneys and Cuccinelli. “There are a lot of people behind the scenes who believed in me. Twenty-seven years, I never gave up. I kept pushing. I ain’t give up hope.
“I am very happy. Me and my family can finally put this behind us, and I can go on with my life. And I can finally vote.”