A Virginia man who has spent 27 years in prison for rapes and other attacks he says he did not commit has been ordered released from the Greensville Correctional Center while a court considers his innocence claim, the office of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said Friday.
Thomas Haynesworth, who was an 18-year-old high school dropout when he was convicted of the 1984 crimes in Richmond, has been exonerated by DNA in two rapes. But he also was convicted of two other attacks in which there is no genetic evidence to test.
Haynesworth, now 45, has consistently claimed his innocence in all the cases and has been fighting for release from prison. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and two prosecutors are supporting his bid for freedom.
McDonnell said that “in light of the unique circumstances” of the case, he asked the parole board to review the claim. The board voted to grant Haynesworth parole.
Haynesworth will be conditionally released according to terms set by the board, and will be supervised by the state Department of Corrections.
McDonnell also said in a statement he will consider a petition for pardon if one is filed by Haynesworth.