- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2002

RICHMOND Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner will grant an unconditional pardon today to a man who served 15 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.
DNA tests last year ruled out Marvin Lamont Anderson as the source of genetic evidence at the crime scene.
"I am convinced that Mr. Anderson is innocent of the charges for which he was convicted," the Democratic governor wrote in his pardon, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press.
Mr. Anderson was convicted and sentenced to 210 years in prison based on testimony from the victim in the case. He served 15 years before his parole in 1997 and has been a truck driver since.
Mr. Anderson is the 110th convicted felon in the country to be cleared by DNA, said Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project and one of Mr. Anderson's lawyers. A dozen of the cleared inmates were on death row.
Mr. Anderson, 38, did not return phone calls seeking comment on his pardon, but he said after last year's DNA tests that he was not bitter.
"There's no anger," he said. "What happened to me was a mistake by many people, not just any one individual. There was nothing I had to be ashamed about because I knew the truth would come out."
Virginia is among 27 states that allow DNA testing after a person has been convicted.
Before a new Virginia law went into effect last year, Mr. Anderson had no legal right to the tests.
The law permits inmates to seek court orders for DNA testing and creates an exception to Virginia's deadline for allowing a felon to present new evidence of innocence. The deadline, the shortest in the nation, remains 21 days for anything other than scientific evidence.
DNA tests have exonerated six Virginia inmates, including death row prisoner Earl Washington. Mr. Neufeld said Virginia has the fourth-highest number of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA, after Illinois, Texas and New York.
In March, a grand jury in suburban Hanover County charged that a Virginia inmate committed the rape and robbery for which Mr. Anderson was sent to prison.
The inmate, John Otis Lincoln, had testified in 1988 that he committed the crime, but a judge rejected the testimony. Mr. Neufeld said judges are usually unwilling to accept such testimony in a crime for which someone already has been convicted.
Lincoln, serving 23 years for numerous offenses, including grand larceny, assault, robbery and burglary, faces trial on the new charges Sept. 9.
Mr. Warner said he was "convinced that a jury accorded the benefit of the DNA analysis available to me today, and the sworn testimony of John Otis Lincoln, would not have found Mr. Anderson guilty."
The governor said, however, that he found no fault with the jury's verdict based on the evidence available at the time of Mr. Anderson's trial, nor with the actions of the commonwealth's attorney, who subsequently sought the pardon for Mr. Anderson.
The pardon allows Mr. Anderson to petition the Hanover Circuit Court to remove all police and court records relating to his conviction.

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