Va. Man Serves 18 Years in Rape Case, But Was He Guilty?

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Michael McAlister walked out of a Virginia prison Thursday after serving 18 years for an attempted rape that the prosecutor and the lead investigator in the case now doubt he committed. Denied parole and pardon, McAlister, 48, left because he had served his time. He was convicted of abduction and attempted rape in South Richmond in 1986 but has maintained he did not do it.

Because the crime was an attempted rape, there was no DNA evidence. The victim identified McAlister as her attacker in a photo spread and in the courtroom. But since the conviction, C.M. Martin, who investigated the case as a Richmond police detective, said he believes McAlister is innocent and that a more likely perpetrator was a serial rapist who strongly resembles McAlister and is now serving a life sentence for an unrelated rape. Former Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Joseph D. Morrissey says he, too, doubts McAlister was guilty. Both men spoke to the Virginia State Parole Board on McAlister’s behalf, but he was repeatedly turned down for parole. Gov. Mark R. Warner turned down a request for a pardon.

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