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Wrongfully Imprisoned Man to Get More Than $1 Million

April 5, 2012

By Brad Fulton
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A Richmond man who spent nearly three decades wrongfully incarcerated in prison will receive more than $1 million in restitution under a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell signed Senate Bill 41, introduced by Sen. Henry Marsh, a Democrat from Richmond. It will give Thomas Haynesworth $1,075,178 for his wrongful conviction and subsequent 27 years spent in prison.

“Thomas Haynesworth’s wrongful convictions and imprisonment were a tragedy, and although the Commonwealth cannot return to him the years lost while serving time in prison, we can assist him as he rebuilds his life,” McDonnell said.

Haynesworth was wrongfully convicted in 1984 of sexual assault in a series of three rapes that occurred in Henrico County and Richmond. Haynesworth, then 18, spent the following 27 years in prison.

In 2009, DNA testing cleared Haynesworth of sexual assault charges and pointed to another man, Leon Davis, as the perpetrator. Davis is currently serving seven life sentences for related crimes.

The amount of restitution increased from the time the bill was introduced. Originally, the legislation called for Haynesworth to be awarded $796,428, along with a $10,000 stipend for school and technical training.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli worked with attorneys from the Innocence Project, who represented Haynesworth, to fully exonerate him of all crimes.

“In light of all the information available to us, we concluded that a miscarriage of justice had occurred – not as the result of any misconduct, but simply because of a series of unfortunate, human mistakes,” Cuccinelli said.

“Regrettably, no one at the time had the global view of the case that we are now able to see with the benefit of hindsight.”

Haynesworth, now 47, was released from prison on March 21, 2011, on his 46th birthday.

SB 41 was approved unanimously by the House and Senate on March 10, the final day of the General Assembly’s regular 2012 session.

Under the measure, Haynesworth must sign a release agreeing not to pursue any present or future claims against the state. Within 60 days, he then would be paid an initial lump sum of $215,036.

In addition, before Oct. 1, the state would spend $759,232 to purchase an annuity “structured in Mr. Haynesworth’s best interests based on consultation between Mr. Haynesworth or his representatives, the State Treasurer, and other necessary parties.”

Moreover, the state would spend “$100,910 to purchase an additional annuity that will provide a monthly income of $1,516 to Mr. Haynesworth upon the later of his reaching age 60 or retiring under the Virginia Retirement System. In addition, the bill entitles Mr. Haynesworth to receive up to $10,000 for tuition for career and technical training within the Virginia Community College System.”

SB 41 noted that Haynesworth has “suffered severe physical, emotional, and psychological damage as a result of this wrongful incarceration and has no other means to obtain adequate relief except by action of” the General Assembly.

Thomas Haynesworth, flanked by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (left) and Shawn Armbrust of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project

This article was published by such CNS subscribers as LoudounTimes.com.