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Johnnie Lindsey, Wrongfully Convicted of Rape, Wins Compensation Fight Against State

Johnnie Lindsey, a Dallas man who spent 26 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit, dropped his lawsuit against Texas Comptroller Susan Combs Monday after she agreed to pay him for nearly five years' worth of compensation she initially shorted him.

Under state law, the wrongfully imprisoned are eligible for $160,000 for each year they spend locked up -- half paid in a lump sum and the other half in an annuity to be paid out for life, until death or a felony conviction. But the comptroller had denied Lindsey compensation for eight years of his sentence because he was serving a concurrent sentence on an attempted rape charge.

Lindsey, in a case before the Texas Supreme Court, argued that would have been out in four years and nine months under the mandatory release statute because of the number of good-behavior days he accumulated.

The case goes back to October 1982, when a white woman jogging along a path near White Rock Lake told police Lindsey tried to rape her. Lindsey, who's black, was told by his lawyer that because there was no physical evidence, it was her word against his and that he should take a plea deal.

Over his own reluctance, Lindsey did what the lawyer advised. And while serving his sentence a few months later, he received a warrant for a 1981 rape in the same area. The victim, a white woman, picked Lindsey out of a lineup in which he and one other man were pictured shirtless. A witness picked another man, but switched to Lindsey when told whom the victim had identified. He was convicted in March 1983 and sentenced to life in prison.

In September 2007, Lindsey won DNA testing and was exonerated of the crime. Even though he couldn't conclusively prove that he was innocent of the attempted rape charge, he argued that he should at least be paid for the time he would have been out on mandatory release. After perusing his petition to the Texas Supremes, the comptroller apparently had a change of heart, agreeing to cut Lindsey a check for $408,000, to go with about $1.8 million he already received from the state.


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