“My release from jail was one of the greatest days of my life. My mom and sister picked me up from the prison facilities and took me home. It fulfilled a dream I never thought would actually come true.” – Michael McAlister
Mike McAlister walked out of prison on May 13, 2015 after serving more than 29 years for a crime he did not commit. McAlister received an absolute pardon from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, fully exonerating him.
In 1986, McAlister was mistaken for another man, Norman Derr, and convicted of rape and abduction with the intent to defile. While he was imprisoned, McAlister maintained his innocence but both his appeal and his petition to then Governor Mark Warner were denied.
In April of 2014, MAIP and lawyers from Miller & Chevlier, as well as the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney Michael Herring, petitioned Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for an absolute pardon based on actual innocence. In May of 2015, McAlister was pardoned.
This case is not only an example of mistaken identification, but it also shows why we need to keep working to insure that the innocent are able to challenge their convictions. Although many people believed McAlister to be innocent, Virginia law made it impossible to undo his conviction in court.
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