In 1978, 64-year-old Lawrence McKinney was convicted and sentenced to prison for 115 years after being accused of r*ping a woman and stealing a television set.
However, a continuous investigation revealed that he had been falsely accused as DNA evidence ruled him out as a suspect.
Lawrence had spent over three decades in prison on a count of false interrogation before he was released in 2009.
While he was released almost immediately after the evidence was confirmed to be real, seeing the state officials issue him $75 after wasting over 30 years of his life was quite shocking.
Aside from being a free man, nothing changes the fact that Lawrence had nothing to fall back on.
In an interview with CBS News, he said:
“I don’t have any life. All my life was taken away.”
His lawyer, Jack Lowery, also added that it is wrong for Tennessee authorities to compensate his client with such a ridiculous amount despite the injustice.
In another interview with WZTV, Lawrence stated, “All my 20s and all my 30s and 40s, they were taken away from me.
I didn’t have a chance to build something for myself.”
Road To Exoneration
Ever since his release, Lawrence had begun seeking a full exoneration so that he could apply for compensation of up to $1M.
One of his lawyers, David Raybin, believes that McKinney deserves more than he is asking for.
“A person is deprived of their life and freedom. In my view, Mr. McKinney is entitled so far more than $1M based on what’s happened to him.”
Despite having the evidence required for a full pardon, the Parole board unanimously turned them down and claimed to have no trust in DNA.
Since his appeal, that was the second time the parole board members would vote unanimously to deny his exoneration case.
“It is not justice for him not to receive compensation for being wrongfully imprisoned.
Yet, the board isn’t convinced about McKinney’s innocence; Even the board’s newest member, Patsy Bruce.” Lowery said after receiving the news of the rejection of the full exoneration.
Since the state cannot give Lawrence his lost years, he believes that they should be able to pay as much money as he deserves.
“After considering all of the evidence, the board did not find clear and convincing evidence of innocence and declined to recommend clemency in this matter.” Melissa McDonald, a spokeswoman for the board, told CNN.
While all hope seemed to be lost at that point, luck smiled on McKinney when he found out that the Republican Tennessee Governor, asides the parole members is another person that can hear his exoneration case and grant him clemency.
His team took advantage of this and kept pushing his case to the Governor’s (Bill Haslam) table. And finally, in November, the Governor received McKinney’s executive clemency application.