Tennessee Man Exonerated After 11 Years In Prison
The Marshall County District Attorney General’s Office recently dismissed all remaining charges against a Tennessee man, Randy Mills, thus exonerating him of a 1999 rape. The dismissal was in response to a November 2013 decision by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals which ordered a new trial for Mills based on new DNA evidence proving his innocence.
Mills had been convicted in January 2000 of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery for an incident alleged to have occurred on March 15, 1999. The accuser, aged 12, was under the care of her then 16-year-old sister at the time of the alleged assault. She claimed that Mills had lured her into his bedroom to smoke pot and then raped her. Her story was bolstered by the report of a state lab analyst to the effect that Mills could not be excluded as the source of sperm on the accuser’s underwear.
Mills sought post-conviction relief and was eventually able to have another lab conduct DNA testing on the underwear. This DNA testing definitively excluded Mills as the source of the sperm. Based on this new evidence, the circuit court judge dismissed the rape charge, but allowed three counts of aggravated sexual battery to remain. A subsequent agreement allowed for Mills’ release but required him to register as a sex offender. Mills continued to fight his conviction and the charges against him and, on November 19, 2013, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals found that all of Mills’ convictions must be overturned based on the new DNA evidence. In April 2014, prosecutors dismissed all remaining charges against Mills.
The Innocence Project assisted Mills with his efforts. The Innocence Project reviewed the data from the State’s original DNA testing and determined that the State had misrepresented the results of those tests, meaning there was evidence before trial that definitively excluded Mills as a suspect.
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