Wrongfully convicted Tenn. man eligible for $1M in compensation

LEBANON, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Wilson County man behind bars for 31 years has been exonerated, and could be eligible for up to $1 million in compensation.

Gov. Bill Haslam granted Lawrence McKinney's request Wednesday in writing, "In the eyes of the judicial system, Mr. McKinney is innocent."

McKinney was charged with rape and burglary back in 1978, but DNA evidence proved he didn't commit the crime, and he was released in 2009. He was only compensated $75, because Tennessee doesn't automatically grant compensation for wrongful convictions.

After appealing to the parole board twice for compensation — and being twice denied — McKinney said that he worked odd jobs at a church in hopes of making ends meet.

Haslam's exoneration means that McKinney is eligible for $32,000 for each of the 31 years he spent in prison. The Tennessee Board of Claims will decide McKinney's claim.