WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. (PIX11) — Overcome with emotion, Leonard Mack released almost 50 years of tears in Westchester County Court.
His 1976 rape conviction was finally vacated on Tuesday. He spent seven years behind bars for a crime he never committed.
DNA evidence proved his innocence, and now his record is clean.
In 1975, two teenage girls walking home from school in a wooded area of Greenburgh were bound by a man who followed them.
One of the girls was raped, and the suspect fled.
Mack was arrested and convicted mainly because he fit a vague description — a Black man wearing a hat with an earring.
Although Mack was seen by three people that day, which would have made it impossible for him to be at the crime scene, he was convicted and served seven years in Sing Sing prison.
After serving his time, he moved to South Carolina, but the conviction haunted him.
Lawyers from the Innocence Project championed Mack’s case.
It is the most extended wrongful conviction ever vacated from DNA evidence. After exonerating him in court, the judge asked for a hug, and the Westchester Country prosecutor apologized for the wrongful conviction.
If that wasn’t enough, it all came on his 72nd birthday. Walking out of court, Mack’s tears were gone, replaced by a boundless joy 48 years in the making.