In a landmark case, 72-year-old Leonard Mack has been exonerated of a 1975 rape he did not commit, thanks to DNA evidence that conclusively proved his innocence. This overturns what is now the longest known wrongful conviction in U.S. history to be corrected by DNA evidence.
Mack had spent more than seven years in prison following his 1976 conviction. The wrongful arrest occurred in Greenburgh, New York, where police, searching for a black male suspect, arrested Mack despite his strong alibi and his different clothing. Two teenage girls, one of whom was raped, mistakenly identified Mack in a flawed police training.
In 2022, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit, along with the nonprofit Innocence Project, reviewed the case with new DNA evidence. These revealed that the real culprit was a man already convicted of similar crimes, who later confessed.
District Attorney Miriam E Rocah applauded Mack’s resistance, saying wrongful convictions endanger both false defendants and public safety. According to the Innocence Project, the leading cause of wrongful convictions is witness misidentification, further exacerbated by factors such as racial bias.
Mack, a Vietnam War veteran, said after his exoneration: “Now the truth is out and I can finally breathe. I’m finally free.” He has lived in South Carolina with his wife for almost 21 years.
This article is sourced from and written by AI.
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