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IU McKinney professor celebrates Innocence Project client’s release

April 26, 2016

An Indianapolis law professor is celebrating the release from prison of a Gary man who she has argued for years was wrongly convicted of rape, sexual deviate conduct and robbery.

Darryl Pinkins was freed Monday after almost 25 years in the Department of Correction. Lake County prosecutor Bernard Carter last week moved to vacate Pinkins’ conviction rather than proceed with a hearing for a new trial that had been scheduled for Monday.  Experts said DNA evidence collected by the state ruled out Pinkins and another man who was convicted in the case.  

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law professor Fran Watson credited students and volunteers who’ve worked with the school’s Wrongful Conviction Clinic for helping clear Pinkins’ name. “Of course, I think the fact that ‘48 Hours’ was on scene, interested in the story of this new science solving old wrongs, was invaluable,” Watson said of the television news program’s interest.

Pinkins had been sentenced to 65 years in prison for convictions stemming from a 1989 incident. A motorist driving in the early-morning hours was struck from behind by another vehicle. When she got out to check the damage, she was pulled into the other car, and five men took her to a remote area and raped her.

Pinkins, 63, was convicted in 1991 along with co-defendant Roosevelt Glenn, who completed his sentence for a rape conviction and was released in 2009. The Times of Northwest Indiana reported that Glenn met Pinkins and the two embraced as Pinkins was freed from the Lake County Jail Monday. Pinkins was greeted by friends, family members and supporters upon his release.

"It is a horror story that these men were convicted in the first place,” said professor Greg Hampikian of the Idaho Innocence Project. Hampikian and a geneticist would have testified that Pinkins was exonerated by a new DNA technique that identifies genotypes of the five assailants who committed the crime.

“The DNA tests ordered by the state in 1990 should have ended it before their trials,” Hampikian said. “These men were excluded by science from the very beginning. I’m glad the state finally came around, but that it took this long is inexcusable. These families have suffered terribly because the state has ignored clear DNA evidence over and over, until this day. Frances Watson and her students are heroes.”

According to a news release from IU McKinney, the Wrongful Conviction Clinic will now work to vacate Glenn’s conviction as well. Glenn has written a book about his experience, “Innocent Nightmare.”

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