Man wrongfully convicted of 1990 rape released from prison

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The University of Virginia School of Law says a man who was wrongfully convicted of raping a child has been released from prison.

Darnell Phillips was sentenced to 100 years in prison for the 1990 rape of a child in Virginia Beach.

He was paroled on Tuesday after serving 28 years of that sentence, about three years after new evidence was uncovered by the Innocence Project Clinic.

However, Phillips has not been officially cleared of the crime and must still register as a sex offender.

According to a release, a petition for a writ of actual innocence is pending for him before the Virginia Supreme Court.

The release says the Innocence Project Clinic found DNA evidence and received a sworn affidavit statement from the victim, both supporting Phillips' long-standing claim of his innocence.

In 2015, a team from the clinic found physical evidence that needed to be tested for DNA, including a rape kit and garments from the original investigation in storage at a Virginia Beach courthouse evidence room. These items had never been tested.

Two labs were unable to come up with conclusive evidence from the samples, which had degraded over time, but a lab in California did find last summer that at least two men had touched the garments from the 1990 case, neither of whom were Phillips.

In the affidavit, the victim said police had told her Phillips had assaulted other children, that his alibi was not good and her blood was found on his underwear at his home.

"None of these statements was true," said Deirdre Enright, the clinic's director of investigation.

Now that he is out of prison, Phillips will be on supervised probation unless he receives a pardon or relief from the court.



 
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