Leonard Mack, who spent more than 7 years in prison, always fought for his innocence. But it was not until 2022 that the prosecution reopened the case and carried out analyzes based on DNA traces that remained valid on a victim’s underwear.
A 72-year-old African-American man was exonerated Tuesday by a court near New York, thanks to new DNA evidence, of a rape perpetrated in 1975 for which he had been imprisoned for more than 7 years, one of the oldest recognized miscarriages of justice in the United States.
According to the Innocence Project, which, along with the Westchester County Prosecutor’s Office, referred the matter to the highest court in New York State, this is indeed the oldest known conviction to fall in the United States thanks to evidence. DNA, out of a total of more than 3,300 people exonerated since 1989.
The analyzes cleared him of the cause
Leonard Mack, who walked with a cane on Tuesday and appeared very emotional at the hearing, was around twenty years old when he was arrested on May 22, 1975, for the rape a few hours earlier of a high school girl, who was walking with a friend in the small town of Greenburgh, in the same county.
“Although he maintains his innocence, and presents witnesses supporting his alibi”, according to the prosecution, Leonard Mack, who had served in the Vietnam War, was sentenced a year later for rape and possession of a weapon to a sentence ranging from seven and a half to fifteen years in state prison.
The two victims had been pushed to recognize him, after “identifications tainted by biased and problematic police methods”, underlined the prosecution. Methods of which black and Hispanic people are more often victims, according to Innocence Project.
The analyzes exonerated him and on the contrary made it possible to confuse another suspect, in prison in another case. He admitted to the 1975 rape but can no longer be convicted under the statute of limitations.
“Now I can truly say that I am free,” Leonard Mack said, in tears, according to extracts of the hearing at the White Plains court, broadcast by American media.
According to the 2022 report from the “National Registry of Exonerations”, a project led by several American universities, black people represent 13% of the population in the United States, but accounted for 53% of declarations of innocence after judicial errors since 1989 .
Source: BFM TV