Wrongly convicted man gets pardon

Sunday, January 5, 2003

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- A man who was freed after serving 20 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit has been pardoned by Gov. Parris Glendening, the first step in the process of receiving financial compensation from the state.

Bernard Webster, 40, of Baltimore, was cleared of the crime by DNA evidence. With the pardon, Webster can now go before the Board of Public Works and ask for reimbursement for spending two decades at the Maryland Correctional Institution.

In 1994, the state awarded $300,000 to Kirk Bloodsworth, of Cambridge, who spent nine years in prison for the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl before DNA led to his release.

Webster always maintained his innocence. He kept working to clear his name, even though his sentence was shortened because of good behavior and he was to be released next month.

Webster was 19 when a 47-year-old woman identified him as the man who raped her; two other eyewitnesses testified that they had seen Webster at the woman's complex.

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