DNA Clears Va. Man in 1982 Rape
He Served 15 Years Before Being Paroled
By Brooke A. Masters
Washington Post Staff Writer                                                                                    Friday, December 7, 2001


A Hanover County man convicted of a 1982 rape and turned down for
clemency has become the first Virginian to be cleared by DNA results under the state's new law allowing felons to seek genetic testing. The results not only ruled out Marvin Lamont Anderson as the source of the crime-scene DNA, but they also partially matched two convicted felons in the state's databank, said Hanover Commonwealth's Attorney Kirby H. Porter. The evidence was too degraded to make a complete match with either one, he said. "We're going to reopen the investigation from the beginning. We're not in the business of convicting innocent people," Porter said. Anderson, who is black, was convicted by an all-white jury and  sentenced to 210 years in prison based on testimony from the white  victim in the case. He served 15 years before his parole in 1997,  said his lawyer, Paul Enzinna, of the Innocence Project of the  National Capital Region.

"This case raises very serious questions about racial disparity and
injustice," said Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the first Innocence  Project and another of Anderson's lawyers. He said Anderson is the  99th convicted felon in the country to be cleared by DNA. His lawyers allege that another man confessed to the crime in 1988 but that the state courts and then-Gov. L. Douglas Wilder discounted that information in rejecting Anderson's appeals and clemency  petition. Before the law went into effect in July, Anderson had no legal right
to the tests. The law, signed by Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) in  May, permits inmates to seek court orders for DNA testing and creates  an exception to Virginia's shortest-in-the-nation deadline for  allowing a felon to present new evidence of innocence. The deadline  remains 21 days for anything other than scientific evidence. Anderson is the second convicted felon to receive DNA testing under  the law, and his exoneration poses a new legal issue. The law does not yet allow felons to bring their scientific evidence  to court after the deadline because that part of the measure requires  a constitutional amendment. So Anderson cannot yet rely on a judge to  clear him.

Enzinna said his client intends to seek a full pardon from Gilmore
rather than wait until his legal options open. Anderson, a  long-distance trucker who is married and has a 2-year-old child, was  on the road and could not be reached. Gilmore's spokeswoman, Lila White, said she was not aware of the
case. "We would look forward to reading his clemency petition," she said. Anderson has gone that route before. His case became a cause celebre among state civil rights leaders in 1993 when his attorneys filed a clemency appeal with Wilder alleging that another man had confessed and that the victim's identification of Anderson had been tainted by police mistakes.

Neufeld said Hanover authorities had investigated Anderson, who had
no criminal record, because the rapist had talked about having a white girlfriend and Anderson was dating a white woman. The photo spread shown to the victim used an employment photo for Anderson and mug shots for the others, he said. But a judge found the other confession was "not true," and Wilder rejected the clemency petition. Wilder said yesterday he did not
recall the case. Porter said it was premature to say whether he would support a new  clemency application. "We have to reopen the investigation," he said.But he noted that his office had not opposed Anderson's request for testing. "I don't think there's a reason to be at cross-purposes"  with Anderson's lawyers, he said. "We have the same interest in tracking down the guilty party." Del. James F. Almand (D-Arlington), who led the charge to change the  21-day rule for years, called the results "wonderful news." But he  said the case highlights the need to allow inmates to use other kinds  of evidence, such as a confession. "This is a very important step that can right a horrible wrong," he  said. "DNA is covered, but there are other types of evidence as well.  . . . We still have a ways to go in Virginia."



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