The Washington Times - December 6, 2011, 02:22PM

The Virginia Court of Appeals has fully exonerated a Virginia man who served 27 years in prison for several sexual assault convictions, after DNA evidence later linked at least one of them to another man.

Thomas Haynesworth, 46, was wrongly identified in 1984 as the man who had attacked five women in the Richmond area and convicted for three of them. In 2009, DNA testing cleared Mr. Haynesworth of one of the rapes, and confirmed that another man named Leon Davis had committed the crime.


While there was no DNA evidence for the remaining convictions, testing in a separate case also cleared Mr. Haynesworth and implicated Mr. Davis, who is currently serving seven life sentences for another series of rapes.

“Today marks the end of an unimaginable nightmare for Thomas Haynesworth,” said Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II. “For 27 years in prison, he always maintained his innocence and continuously displayed tremendous dignity and grace, steadfastly believing that justice would one day be served. Today, justice was in fact served, and Thomas Haynesworth was finally granted the total freedom he so deserves.”

Mr. Cuccinelli, along with Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring and Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Wade Kizer, decided to take up the case to help Mr. Haynesworth clear his name.

“Normally, as attorney general, I am fighting to keep people in jail,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. “But this office has an obligation to see that justice is done in every case, regardless of which side of the courtroom that justice may fall.”

After Mr. Haynesworth applied for writs of actual innocence, which were granted Monday morning, Gov. Bob McDonnell asked the Virginia Parole Board to look at the case and the board granted Mr. Haynesworth parole in March 2011.