Falsely convicted man seeks to clear his name - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Falsely convicted man seeks to clear his name

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LEBANON, TN (WSMV) -

A Tennessee man is fighting to clear his name after DNA evidence proved he had no part in a terrible crime.

Lawrence McKinney spent 31 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit.

He was released in 2009, but said a decision by the state is stopping him from getting a steady job, the right to vote and a passport to allow him to travel to do mission work.

McKinney's lack of bitterness has created a legion of champions.

Despite his unfair and inaccurate felony record, he remains at peace while friends fight for his exoneration.

McKinney was falsely accused of rape and burglary in 1977 in Memphis, 31 years into the sentence, the Innocence Project freed him on DNA evidence.

He wasn't there and had nothing to do with the crime. The district attorney and judge released him from custody.

No one says McKinney is a convicted felon, except when a potential employer runs his background check.

The background check means he can't get a passport, he can't vote and he gets ugly looks from potential employers.

"My job now is the Lord's work and try to make everyone realize who Jesus is," said McKinney. "I've got peace, I mean real peace."

It's hard to get a job when you are a convicted felon who went into jail at age 22 and came out at 53.

But that peace, the loving heart of McKinney, cut through.

Lifeway Christian Resources hired him and put him on the cover of its employee magazine. So did a local hospital and a church.

McKinney said he would like to vote. Even more he would like to go on a mission trip with Immanuel Baptist Church.

While all this is worth fighting for, McKinney isn't fighting.

"God is going to put the right people in my life to help me through," said McKinney.

Pastor John Hunn of Immanuel Baptist is one of those right people to help McKinney.

He wants the governor to exonerate McKinney as soon as possible because it's the right thing to do.

"He is not guilty. The state of Tennessee admitted that," said Hunn. "They need to finish that up and make it right and do right by a citizen of the state of Tennessee."

Channel 4 News asked the governor's office Friday why McKinney had not been exonerated and why it had taken so much time. They advised us to call the state Probation and Parole Board.

Probation and Parole said it did not have a definitive answer.

The Department of Correction said he needs to go to the original court for an expungement order.

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