DNA Frees Prisoner After 17 Years

ST. LOUIS (AP) – A man who served 17 years in prison for three rapes was freed Monday after DNA tests proved he didn’t do it.

Circuit Judge Jimmie Edwards apologized to Lonnie Erby for the wrongful conviction, noting that the science of criminal investigation has improved since 1986.

Erby said of the apology: “That was the one thing I was waiting for.”

Erby, 49, was sentenced to 115 years for the 1985 attacks on three girls. He was released after genetic testing found that the semen taken from the victims was not his.

Immediately after being freed, Erby hugged the son he had seen just once since his incarceration.

Erby was the second inmate convicted of a St. Louis rape to be freed after DNA testing sought by the Innocence Project, headed by Barry Scheck, who gained fame as part of the O.J. Simpson defense team.

In July 2002, Larry Johnson was released after spending 18 years in prison for the 1984 rape of a Saint Louis University student.

Nationally, more than 300 men and women have been exonerated of crimes and released from prison as the result of DNA testing, the Innocence Project said. Testing has confirmed the guilt of some other inmates.

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Associated Press, USA
Aug. 27, 2003
Betsy Taylor

Religion News Blog posted this on Friday September 5, 2003.
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