Thanks to the work of attorneys at the Florida Innocence Project, James Bain was exonerated Thursday after serving 35 years behind bars for a rape that he did not commit.
Not only did Bain become the 248th person exonerated thanks to DNA testing, but he also spent more time in prison than any of the other DNA exonerees. It took Bain eight years to have his DNA tested by the state. As soon as the results were fully analyzed, Polk County prosecutors and the judge agreed that the conviction should be vacated.
In 1974, Bain was accused of kidnapping and raping a 9-year-old boy, who later picked him out of a photo lineup. The boy later admitted in a deposition that he had been asked “to pick out Jimmie Bain,” who the victim's uncle knew and thought looked like the description the boy gave of his attacker. Witness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions.
In 2001, Florida passed a statute allowing cases to be reopened for DNA testing. Bain filed motions himself four times requesting such testing but was denied each time. On the fifth attempt, an appeals court decided he was entitled to a hearing to determine his right to receive testing.
The Innocence Project of Florida represented him in the hearing and secured the testing of sperm found on the victim's underwear. The results, which were received last week, confirmed that Bain could not have been involved in the crime. Prosecutors now plan on running the sample through a database of known offenders, hoping to find a "cold hit" and discover the real assailant.
Bain, who is now 54, said he was not angry about his miscarriage of justice. Instead, he said, “I kind of feel like when they first landed on the moon. We have touchdown!”
The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project congratulates Seth Miller and the Florida Innocence Project on a job well done and wished Mr. Bain all the best.
Click here to read a CNN article on the exoneration and watch Mr. Bain in a press conference shortly after his release.