- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) - A northern Indiana man was released from police custody to the cheers of a crowd of friends and family after he served more than two decades in prison for a gang rape in which he recently was cleared.

Darryl Pinkins, 63, of Gary was released Monday from the Lake County jail after prosecutors filed a petition that vacated his 1991 convictions of rape, criminal deviate conduct and robbery. He had been serving a 65-year sentence at the New Castle Correctional Facility and was set to be released in 2021.

“It feels good,” Pinkins said about his release. “It feels like this day was meant to be. I knew it was, God knew it was.”

Pinkins was among a group of men accused of rear-ending a Hammond woman’s vehicle and attacking her when she got out to inspect the damage in December 1989. The woman said she was dragged into another vehicle, taken to a remote part of Gary and sexually assaulted for two hours.

Police traced a pair of dirty green coveralls, which were used to cover the woman’s face, to a slag processor where Pinkins and another defendant, Roosevelt Glenn, worked.

Pinkins, Glenn and three other men were arrested in the woman’s rape. Charges against two of the men were dropped and dismissed against a third after a jury was able to reach a verdict, but Pinkins and Glenn were convicted in the case.

Glenn was sentenced to 35 years in jail. He was released in 2009.

Although none of the DNA evidence collected in the case matched Pinkins, he was sentenced to 65 years in prison after the victim identified him as one of her attackers and an inmate who shared a cell with him testified that Pinkins confessed to the rape.

In 1995, four years after his conviction, Pinkins first wrote to the Indiana Innocence Project in hopes that the organization would help him prove his innocence.

More than 20 years later, the group was able to use new technology that found none of the DNA samples from the victim’s clothing matched Pinkins’ or Glenn’s DNA, proving their innocence.

As a result, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter Jr. announced Friday that his office was dropping all of the charges against Pinkins.

Although Glenn had to serve his full sentence, he feels that justice has been served by watching Pinkins walk free Monday, and he looks forward to his own conviction overturned.

“That lets me know it’s over,” Glenn said.

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