Pro Bono Efforts Lead to Complete Exoneration of Thomas Haynesworth
07 December 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C, 7 December 2011 – The Virginia Court of Appeals yesterday exonerated Thomas Haynesworth of a series of sexual assaults that occurred in 1984 based on newly discovered DNA and other evidence that proved the crimes were committed by the self-proclaimed “Black Ninja” rapist. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Richmond Commonwealth Attorney Michael Herring, and Henrico Commonwealth Attorney Wade Kizer, joined the Innocence Project, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, and Hogan Lovells in seeking the writs of actual innocence based on non-biological evidence that the court granted yesterday. Haynesworth, who was released on parole in March thanks to intervention by Governor Bob McDonnell, served nearly 27 years in prison for the sexual assaults and had to register as a sex offender and abide by strict conditions of parole since his release.
“We are very pleased to have played an integral role in this case, which has spanned many years but ultimately resulted in Mr. Haynesworth’s complete exoneration,” said Hogan Lovells Partner Ellen Kennedy, who led the firm’s pro bono efforts on the case.
Yesterday’s 6-4 decision marks only the second time that a Virginia court has exonerated someone through a writ of actual innocence based on non-biological evidence.
The legal team included Shawn Armbrust, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, Peter Neufeld, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, Olga Akselrod, Staff Attorney with the Innocence Project, and Hogan Lovells partner Ellen Kennedy and associates Thomas Widor and Aaron George.