Haslam goes against parole board, exonerates man in 1978 rape conviction

Press release from Gov. Bill Haslam

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued the following statement on the exoneration of Lawrence McKinney:

“Today I granted Lawrence McKinney’s request for gubernatorial exoneration from his 1978 convictions. Though the facts of this case are complex and reasonable minds may draw different conclusions from them, ultimately I respect the determinations of the Shelby County Criminal Court and District Attorney General that Mr. McKinney was not guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted and would not have been prosecuted if the DNA testing results had been available at the time of trial. Mr. McKinney was released after more than 30 years in prison when the court set aside his convictions in 2009.

“In the eyes of the judicial system, Mr. McKinney is innocent. While I appreciate the hard work and recommendations of the Board of Parole, in this case I defer to the finding of the court charged with determining Mr. McKinney’s guilt or innocence.”

McKinney, 61, was convicted of rape and burglary in Shelby County. had his record expunged after his release from prison where he spent 31 years.

Further, from The Tennessean:

Although he was out of prison and had his record expunged, McKinney still sought an executive exoneration from the governor to enable him to file for compensation with the Tennessee Board of Claims.

McKinney had the support from state Rep. Mark Pody, Pastor John Hunn of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lebanon and attorneys Jack Lowery and David Raybin in his efforts.

…The Tennessee Board of Parole voted unanimously against recommending exoneration for McKinney in 2016. At the time, at least one parole board member questioned the completeness of the DNA evidence that cleared McKinney. 

The governor is not bound to follow that recommendation and can either grant, deny or choose not to act on an executive clemency request.

One Response to Haslam goes against parole board, exonerates man in 1978 rape conviction

  • Kay White says:

    This is one of the few times that I have to agree with Governor Haslam! This was the right decision to make What is lost are the 30 years that his life basically stood still. It is a blessing what DNA had done for our Justice System in helping to determine whether a person is guilty or not when it is available. What is also sad, we may still have people in our Jails who have been there for years and the taxpayers are paying for their keep and they may be innocent and the jail time, when and if ever released has robbed them of a free life. Perhaps if there is a way, we should have the records checked for others who claim to be innocent and see if there are now more available means to prove or disprove one’s innocence. May the people of Tennessee pray for this man and hopefully God will give him good health and a desire to serve God and live a good clean life. It is always easy to judge others but when we ourselves are judged, the story changes!

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