Haynesworth seeks exoneration, Judges hear case

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond man who spent nearly three decades in prison for crimes he didn't commit wants his record and name cleared. On Wednesday morning, attorneys for Thomas Haynesworth argued to a panel of judges that their client should be fully exonerated.

What's truly extraordinary in this case is that two commonwealth's attorneys and the attorney general's office support Haynesworth's petition. They're essentially asking a panel of judges to conclude that jurors got it wrong when they convicted Haynesworth.

46-year-old Thomas Haynesworth walked into court surrounded by his attorneys and loved ones. During the hearing a three panel judge heard arguments on why Haynesworth should be exonerated. His attorneys argued that in light of new evidence no rational jury would be able to convict Haynesworth beyond a reasonable doubt -- and that his record should be cleared.

"Thomas Haynesworth is completely innocent. This is one great miscarriage of justice and this man deserves to get on with his life," said Haynesworth's attorney, Peter Neufeld.

Prosecutors had no comment after the hearing, but during the proceeding they agreed with Haynesworth's attorneys.

Haynesworth was convicted for a string a rapes in Richmond and Henrico in 1984, but recent DNA results clear him in two of the rapes in which he was charged. It implicates Leon Davis, a man who lived in Haynesworth's neighborhood. Davis is serving a life sentence for rapes.

Although Haynesworth walked out of prison last week after being paroled -- two rapes remain on his record.

"Even though Haynesworth is standing here he's not free. He can only be out of his home between 9 and 6. He's wearing an ankle bracelet right now," said another lawyer for Haynesworth, Shawn Armbrust.

Commonwealth's attorneys in Henrico and Richmond support Haynesworth.

"No reasonable and rational prosecutor would go forward knowing what we now know," said Richmond's top prosecutor, Michael Herring.

Haynesworth is hoping for a favorable outcome so he can get out with his life.

"For 27 years my life was taken from my family. I'm innocent. I didn't do nothing," said Haynesworth.

A decision on whether Haynesworth will be exonerated is expected within the next 6 to 8 weeks. Haynesworth's attorneys say if the outcome isn't favorable -- they'll appeal.

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