Governor to pardon man cleared by DNA after serving 15 years

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

RICHMOND, Va. -- A man who was cleared by DNA evidence after serving 15 years in prison for rape will be granted an unconditional pardon by Gov. Mark R. Warner.

The pardon is to be issued Wednesday for Marvin Lamont Anderson, who has been on parole since 1997.

"I am convinced that Mr. Anderson is innocent of the charges for which he was convicted," Warner wrote in his pardon, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Anderson was convicted and sentenced to 210 years in prison based on testimony from the victim in the case. He is the 110th convicted felon in the country to be cleared by DNA, said Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project and one of Anderson's lawyers.

A dozen of the cleared inmates were on death row.

Anderson, 38, did not return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday, but he said after last year's DNA tests that he was not bitter.

"There's no anger," he said. "What happened to me was a mistake by many people, not just any one individual. There was nothing I had to be ashamed about because I knew the truth would come out."

Virginia is one of 27 states that allow DNA testing after a person has been convicted.

DNA tests have exonerated six Virginia inmates, including one death row prisoner. Neufeld said Virginia has the fourth-highest number of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA, after Illinois, Texas and New York.

In March, a grand jury in suburban Hanover County charged a prison inmate with committing the rape and robbery for which Anderson was sent to prison.

That inmate, John Otis Lincoln, had testified in 1988 that he committed the crime but a judge rejected the testimony. Neufeld said judges are usually unwilling to accept such testimony in a crime for which someone already has been convicted.

Lincoln, who is serving 23 years for numerous offenses, including grand larceny, assault, robbery and burglary, faces trial on the new charges Sept. 9.

The pardon allows Anderson to petition for removal of all police and court records relating to his conviction.

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