Thursday, January 17, 2008

La. Convict Cleared by DNA Released

January 17, 2008


A man held 26 years behind bars for rape has been released after DNA evidence proved he was falsely convicted.

Rickey Johnson, 52, was convicted of the 1982 rape after the victim identified him as her attacker. He spent most of those years in the state penitentiary at Angola, until DNA evidence cleared him and implicated another man.

Johnson was released Monday and appeared Tuesday at a news conference in Baton Rouge, where he said he doesn't hold a grudge.

"It ain't going to do no good, being angry," he said.

Since 1990, 10 men in Louisiana have been exonerated by DNA evidence after committing violent crimes and getting long sentences, according to Emily Maw, head of the Innocence Project New Orleans, a nonprofit whose legal help got Johnson out of prison.

Johnson, of Leesville, is the the 211th person nationwide to be exonerated through DNA testing, the Innocence Project said on its Web site.

The rape occurred July 12, 1982, in Many, a small, west-central Louisiana town about 170 miles northeast of Houston.

Nine months after the rape, another occurred in the same apartment complex as the first. A man named John McNeal was convicted of that attack. The DNA test performed on Johnson showed that McNeal committed both rapes, said Vanessa Potkin, Johnson's lawyer.

McNeal is in prison for the second rape.

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