A Man Spent 7 Years In Prison For A Rape He Didn’t Commit. He Was Just Exonerated.

 A man who spent seven years in prison for a rape he always insisted he didn’t commit has finally been exonerated by DNA testing.

Leonard Mack, 72, was convicted of rape and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon back in March 1976. He spent seven-and-a-half years in prison for the convictions, but has always maintained his innocence. Now, 47 years after his conviction, DNA testing has proved that he was wrongfully convicted – and pointed to the actual perpetrator.

The Innocence Project worked with the Westchester County District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit to review evidence from Mack’s conviction and used a DNA profile developed from the evidence, uploaded into state and local DNA databases, to find the real perpetrator. Mack’s wrongful conviction is the longest to be overturned based on DNA evidence.

DNA was not the only evidence to help exonerate Mack. Eyewitness misidentification also played a role, as well as misleading forensic testimony.

“I want to first thank God for this day,” Mack said after he was exonerated. “Next, I want to thank the Innocence Project. Today has been a long time coming. I lost seven-and-a-half years of my life in prison for a crime I did not commit and I have lived with this injustice hanging over my head for almost 50 years. It changed the course of my life — everything from where I lived to my relationship with my family. I never lost hope that one day … I would be proven innocent. Now the truth has come to light and I can finally breathe. I am finally free.”

On May 22, 1975, two 12th-grade girls were walking home from school in Greenburgh, New York, when a black man in his early 20s approached them with a gun. He ordered them not to scream and threatened to kill them before he blindfolded, gagged, and restrained the girls. He raped one and threatened them before he fled. The other girl broke free of her bindings and ran to a nearby school, where a teacher called the police. The girl who was raped managed to free herself and run home, where her sister also called the police.

A rape kit was collected and the Greenburgh Police Department told officers to be on the lookout for the suspect, who was described as having short hair, no beard, and a medium build. He was wearing a black hat with a white brim, a gold earring in his left ear, black pants, and a tan jacket.

About two-and-a-half hours later, a police officer pulled over Mack, who happened to be wearing a black fedora and had a gold earring in his left ear. Though Mack’s clothing didn’t match, the officer told him he matched the suspect’s description. Mack denied any involvement and said he had been with his girlfriend when the attack occurred, which she corroborated. Police searched Mack’s vehicle and found a .22 caliber handgun, similar to one listed as being used in the rape against the teen girl.


Mack was arrested, and one of the victims was brought to the scene where he was handcuffed in order to identify him. She wasn’t sure, and asked the officers to move him into a position matching the suspect. When the officers did, she identified him as the assailant. She was then taken to the police station and shown seven photos of black men, including Mack. His photo, however, was different from the others, showing his face and clothing, along with a May 1975 calendar in the background. The victim chose his picture.

Later that evening, the girl was taken to the police station again and again asked to identify Mack, who was presented alone behind a one-way mirror instead of with a group of other black men.

The other victim, who was legally blind and unable to even tell the sex of a person who was standing more than 10 feet away, was given the same suggestive photo lineup and chose Mack’s photo. She did, however, say she couldn’t be sure that it was him. She was also shown Mack himself behind the one-way mirror, with the other victim present telling her “that’s him.” The victim asked to hear Mack’s voice, and identified him as the assailant.

At trial, three people provided an alibi for Mack during the afternoon of the crime. A defense expert testified that sperm found on the victim’s rape kit excluded Mack, since serological testing showed the assailant was blood type A and Mack was not. A state expert incorrectly testified that the victim herself may have been the source of this biological evidence.

Even though Mack had been forensically ruled out in 1976 – before DNA evidence even existed – it took nearly five decades for him to be exonerated using DNA testing.

A Man Spent 7 Years In Prison For A Rape He Didn’t Commit. He Was Just Exonerated. A Man Spent 7 Years In Prison For A Rape He Didn’t Commit. He Was Just Exonerated. Reviewed by Your Destination on September 09, 2023 Rating: 5

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