After 30 years in a Louisiana prison, DNA tests cleared Henry James of a rape after he spent 30 years in prison.
“I was shocked,” he said during an interview. “After 30 years, you’re finally getting a chance at justice.”.
James, 50, was released from Louisiana State Penitentiary in October. He met with reporters inside the offices of The Innocence Project, which worked to exonerate him of the crime.
He was serving a sentence of life in prison without parole for raping a woman in 1981. He savored his freedom with a shrimp sandwich with sweet potato fries. “You can’t let go. You lose hope, you lose everything,” James said.
State District Judge Henry G. Sullivan vacated James’ conviction at the request of Jefferson Parish prosecutors and James’ lawyers from The Innocence Project.
“This process is about justice,” District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. said in a statement. “As district attorney, my obligation to seek justice does not end upon conviction. Rather, my obligation is to continue to follow the evidence. When the evidence reveals an individual was wrongfully convicted, my office will take action to correct that injustice.”
“It is an actual miracle that Henry James
is here today. It was a miracle that
his evidence was found”
DNA tests have cleared 12 Louisiana prisoners, including James, who served the longest sentence.
James testified at his trial and presented three alibi witnesses that he was sleeping at the time of the sexual assault. However, James’ trial lawyer failed to tell jurors that bodily fluids testing had exonerated James as the attacker.
Court-ordered DNA tests excluded James as the person responsible for the rape.
“It is an actual miracle that Henry James is here today,” said Innocence Project lawyer Vanessa Potkin. “It was a miracle that his evidence was found.”