RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Citing what he called "overwhelming evidence," Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe granted an absolute pardon on Wednesday to Michael Kenneth McAlister, after concluding the crime he was convicted for was committed by someone else.
"Today I am issuing an absolute pardon for Michael Kenneth McAlister. My staff and I have carefully and thoroughly reviewed the documentation in this case and concluded that a pardon is appropriate in light of the overwhelming evidence, including a recent confession by another individual, pointing to Mr. McAlister's actual innocence of the crime for which he was convicted," McAuliffe said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
Reached following the announcement, McAlister's sister Denise Haas said, "We just found out 30 minutes ago, and we can't stop crying. We're so happy."
"Mr. McAlister has served 29 years in prison, and he had faced the potential to be civilly committed for a crime he did not commit. A number of individuals in the law enforcement community, including the Commonwealth's Attorney for the city of Richmond, have concluded that this crime was committed by another individual, and that Mr. McAlister should be freed to return to his family and his community. I have reached the same conclusion, and I have acted in accordance with the law," McAuliffe said. "The integrity of our justice system depends on the guarantee of a fair trial that is informed by all available evidence. Protecting that integrity requires quick action in the event that new evidence comes to light."