Va. prisoner files innocence claim
An Virginia man who is in prison for a series of 1984 attacks against women has asked a Virginia court to declare him innocent.
Modern-day DNA tests have exonerated Thomas Haynesworth, 45, in two sexual assaults and implicated a convicted rapist. But Haynesworth remains behind bars for two crimes in which there is no genetic evidence to test.
Haynesworth's legal team, headed by the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, on Thursday asked the Virginia Court of Appeals to grant a Writ of Actual Innocence. The request, which comes after a months-long reinvestigation of the nearly three-decade-old crimes, has the extraordinary support of prosecutors and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II.
Haynesworth's attorneys allege that convicted rapist Leon Davis, who was implicated in two of the crimes, is responsible for all the attacks. Davis, who is serving several life sentences, lived in the same neighborhood, resembled Haynesworth and has the same blood type. He has not been charged with additional attacks as a result of the new genetic testing.
"The results of the joint investigation prove what Mr. Haynesworth has maintained for almost 27 years - that he is innocent of all the crimes with which he was charged," attorneys wrote in the petition. "All parties now agree that Mr. Haynesworth is an innocent man who has spent nearly 27 years in prison for three crimes he did not commit."
Haynesworth's freedom is not guaranteed. The state Court of Appeals has only once exonerated a convict in a case that wasn't based on biological evidence. The court must be convinced that no jury would convict Haynesworth if it heard all the facts known today.
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