LEBANON, Tenn. - Lawrence McKinney spent more than three decades in prison for rape and burglary. A DNA test revealed he did not do the crime, and a judge set McKinney free.
Lawrence McKinney wants the state of Tennessee to pay him back for lost time.
"I was in prison for 31 years, 9 months, 18 days and 12 hours," said McKinney. "I had nothing to do with none of it."
McKinney was one of three people convicted by a Memphis jury in 1977 of burglary and rape.
"She made some kind of identification of him at the time along with the other ones, and that seems to be the evidence that convicted him was her eyewitness testimony," said attorney Jack Lowey.
DNA testing, which was not available in 1977, revealed three people did the crime but McKinney was not one of them.
"It's a good thing to have. You know a good thing to have, because you're going to tell the truth like it's supposed to be," said McKinney.
When he left prison his first request was to eat some donuts and drink a cup of coffee. He walked around for a long time that day, and even stayed up all night watching television. He said a lot has changed since he went behind bars.
"You've got new cars and stuff like that. I mean seeing different cars and stuff it surprised me," said McKinney.
Three decades of his life had disappeared, and Lowery is filing a wrongful imprisonment claim with the state for a million dollars.
Lowery said it doesn't seem like enough, but it's the maximum amount allowed by law. McKinney said that's okay. In prison he said he found God, and he'll be alright.
He is also about to marry a pen pal he met while he was in prison. McKinney said his bride-to-be is responsible for turning his life around and giving him faith in God.
"I can't be bitter, because I believe in God, because he's the one who opened the door for me. God opened the door for me," said McKinney.
McKinney has to convince Governor Bredesen to exonerate him before he can actually file the million dollar claim.
An advocacy group for justice called the Innocence Project said DNA evidence has freed 245 inmates in the U.S.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 2:24 PM EDT2013-06-19 18:24:42 GMT
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