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Lake Co. man exonerated after 25 years in prison

Posted at 11:27 PM, Apr 26, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- A Lake County man is free this week after spending nearly 25 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.

Darryl Pinkins' attorney calls it a great victory – one that was decades in the making.

Pinkins says he always knew he was innocent, but Tuesday was more about how innocence and freedom felt.

"Feels like this day it was meant to be, and I know it was," Pinkins said.

It was 1989 when prosecutors said Pinkins and a group of men pulled a woman inside a car and sexually assaulted her.

The victim identified Pinkins in court as one of her attackers, but some weren't convinced.

Pinkins' case drew the attention of the Innocence Project. In 199, they wrote an almost prophetic letter referring the case to attorney Fran Watson and the IU McKinney Wrongful Conviction Clinic.

"It says at the end, 'We suspect that a thorough investigation would make this a fairly spectacular set of exonerations,'" Watson said.

For more than 15 years, Watson worked, but failed, to get the conviction overturned.

But recently, with the help of new DNA technology, scientists have shown Pinkins is innocent of the rape he was convicted of.

Watson delivered the news Friday to her client in person.

"He cried real hard," she said. "We both did. We cried, had a good cry, and then did some rejoicing."

Pinkins knows he could be angry at the system that stole 24 years of his life, but believes those chains of hate are just another form of bondage.

"He doesn't want to be bitter," Watson said. "He wants to live free."

Another man convicted in the case, Roosevelt Glenn, was released in 2009 after serving his sentence. The IU Wrongful Conviction Clinic will now work to vacate that conviction using the same DNA technology.