CHICAGO (CBS) -- A man who served more than two decades in prison after being wrongfully convicted of rape was set free on Monday.
In 1991, Darryl Pinkins, of Gary, Indiana, was was convicted of raping a Hammond woman in the pre-dawn hours of December 1989. He has always said he was at home in bed with his wife when the attack occurred, and DNA evidence later cleared him.
Pinkins, 63, walked out of the Lake County Jail in Crown Point shortly before 11 a.m., a month shy of having spent 25 years behind bars. He was greeted by his wife and two sons, including 24-year-old Darryl Jr., who wasn't yet born when Pinkins was incarcerated.
"It feels good. It feels good. I'm proud of both of them, and who they are," said of seeing his sons for the first time in eight years.
For more than 15 years, some university students and the Indiana and Idaho Innocence Projects worked to free Pinkins.
When prosecutors saw new evidence proving that Pinkins' DNA was not found on the victim, they chose to vacate his conviction and free him immediately.
"In the beginning, it was a trial, because we knew that we had nothing to do with this, and we had made up in our minds that we weren't going to settle for nothing less but the truth. And when we were told that we need to change our minds because of DNA, well, once they explained to us what DNA was, we told them to bring the tests on, because we know where we were, and that was it," Pinkins said of his time behind bars.
His case marks the first time that DNA analysis called True Allele has been used. The recent technological breakthrough focuses on DNA mixtures, and experts have said it could affect many convictions across the country.
"There was a crack in the system," Pinkins said. "It does exist, and I'm not the only one within this situation that's going through this. It's people that are not fortunate enough to get the team that I have behind me."
Two of the Innocence Project experts had come to Indiana to testify in a hearing scheduled for Monday, but when prosecutors read their report, they decided to vacate Pinkins' conviction and free him right away.
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