NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Board of Parole unanimously voted to recommend no exoneration for wrongfully convicted, Lawrence McKinney.
McKinney spent 31 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. On Oct. 2, 1977 McKinney was arrested for rape and first degree burglary in Memphis. He was convicted on those charges and sent to prison.
New DNA testing proved he was innocent, leading to his release, but many years later he hadn't been compensated by the State.
The board heard McKinney's case Tuesday and decided he should not be able to clear his record. Board members said there was a gaping hole in the DNA report and the lack of his DNA was not conclusive evidence that McKinney was innocent.
The vote was to give recommendation to Governor Bill Haslam, who would then issue a formal exoneration order.
Governor Bill Haslam does not have to follow the board's recommendation and does not need its approval to act, but a spokeswoman for the governor has said it’s the administration's policy to wait for the board's recommendation before considering clemency.
If McKinney is exonerated he would be eligible for compensation of up to $1 million. Tennessee has paid compensation to wrongfully convicted men only twice before. McKinney's attorney's argue the board's vote Tuesday is not legally binding and they still plan to go before the governor.
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