McDonnell signs bill giving Thomas Haynesworth $1M


Thomas Hanesworth, who spent 27 years behind bars, center, speaks at a press conference with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, left, and Shawn Armbrust of the Mid Atlantic Innocence Project in Richmond, Dec. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

“Thomas Haynesworth’s wrongful convictions and imprisonment were a tragedy and although the commonwealth cannot return to him the years lost while serving time in prison, we can assist him as he rebuilds his life,’’ McDonnell said in a statement Thursday. “Now, as Mr. Haynesworth begins the next chapter in his life, it is morally right for Virginia to provide him with a means to financial security and the ability to move on with his future. This restitution will help ensure that Mr. Haynesworth is able to build upon his freedom and return to society in a successful way.”

In December, Virginia’s Court of Appeals declared Haynesworth an innocent man, clearing his name and acknowledging that he spent 27 years behind bars for crimes he did not commit.

Haynesworth, was supported by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and a pair of state prosecutors — all of whom concluded that he was mistakenly identified by a rape victim as he walked to a Richmond market for sweet potatoes and bread one February afternoon in 1984.

Using technology that wasn’t available in the 1980s, authorities tested semen collected in a January 1984 rape for which Haynesworth had been convicted. It cleared him and pointed to a convicted rapist named Leon Davis.

“Although we wish that the amount of money could have been greater, we also know that no amount can make up for those 27 lost years,’’ Cuccinelli said. “We pray that this will allow Thomas a new beginning to pursue the dreams he has been waiting almost three decades to fulfill.”

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