21:09 GMT16 June 2021
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    In 1982, Lewis Fogle was convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl. He spent over three decades in prison for the conviction, until a DNA test finally cleared his name.

    On Thursday, a judge voided the 63-year-old wrongfully convicted man’s sentence, as his wife who married him shortly before his conviction 34 years ago tearfully waited outside the court.

    Calls for DNA testing in the case were led by the Innocence Project, an organization “dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.”

    “It’s a wonderful day for Mr. Fogle, it’s a wonderful day for his family. He’s waited literally 34 years to prove his innocence. It was always a weird case, trial, very thin case,” Innocence Project Managing Attorney David Loftis told CBS.

    Sperm collected as evidence in the case excluded Fogle, but the prosecutor will have until next month to decide whether or not to bring him back to trial.  Since his charges remain even though the conviction was voided, he has been released on bond for the time being.

    It seems unlikely he will be heading back to trial, though, as the district attorney himself co-filed the motion to vacate his conviction.  The DA has stated he will be reviewing more evidence before announcing his decision on September 14, however.

    “The fact that his DNA did not show up in the test simply says that we may not have the sufficient evidence to prosecute on a felony murder,” Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty told CBS. “The evidence existed, the technology didn’t really exist back in the early 80s to the degree and to the specificity and sophistication that it does now.”

    Fogle was arrested for the murder after a mental health patient had identified him and three others while under hypnosis in 1981.

    His second-degree murder conviction rested on the testimony of three jailhouse informants.  The charges against the other men were dropped due to lack of evidence.

    As part of his bail agreement, Fogle is to have no contact with the victim’s family and must check in with his probation office every other week.  The district attorney intends to test DNA from the other men who had been cleared in the case.


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