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Florida Prisoner Exonerated by DNA After Serving 35 Years

by David M. Reutter

After 35 years of proclaiming his innocence for the kidnapping and rape of a 9-year-old boy, James Bain, 54, was finally proven innocent and released from a Florida prison on December 17, 2009.
Of the 246 prisoners nationwide exonerated by DNA evidence, Bain served the most time, according to the Innocence Project of Florida.

At the time of the 1974 crime, the victim said his attacker had bushy sideburns and a mustache. The boy’s uncle, a former assistant principal at a local high school, thought it sounded like Bain, one of his former students.

Confronted by detectives with a photo lineup, the victim identified Bain. Questions remain as to whether the detectives steered the child to make an incorrect identification. In a subsequent deposition, the victim said he was asked to “pick out Jimmie Bain” among the photos.

Evidentiary testing available at the time failed to definitively link Bain to the crime. Despite that fact the jury rejected his alibi de-fense, supported by his twin sister, that he was home watching TV. Following his conviction Bain was sentenced to life in prison.

After four of his pro se petitions seeking DNA testing were thrown out by state courts, the Innocence Project of Florida became involved in Bain’s case in early 2009. A private lab in Ohio proved his innocence and an expedited test by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed the results. “He’s just not connected with this particular incident,” ac-knowledged State Attorney Jerry Hill.

Under a 2008 Florida law, exonerated prisoners are automatically entitled to $50,000 for each year they served in prison. Bain is therefore entitled to $1.75 million. However, “[n]othing can replace the years Jaimie has lost,” noted Inno-cence Project attorney Seth Miller.

Like many exonerees, Bain exhibited a forgiving spirit upon his release. “No, I’m not angry. Because I’ve got God,” he stated. Bain said he looked forward to spending time with his mother and family. “That’s the most important thing in my life right now, besides God.” The last time Bain was free, Nixon was still president.

Sources: Associated Press,,

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