Wrongfully convicted man seeks $1M damages from state

A Wilson County man wrongfully convicted of rape and robbery nearly 40 years ago is officially asking the state for $1 million in damages, reports WPLN. The move comes just days after Lawrence McKinney was exonerated by Gov. Bill Haslam.

Attorneys for McKinney filed a formal petition Thursday with the Tennessee Board of Claims seeking compensation under the state’s 2004 law awarding damages for wrongful convictions. Only two people have succeeded in receiving awards, and McKinney’s filing follows a years-long effort to put him in the legal position to ask for compensation.

In 2009, McKinney’s charges were expunged and he was released from prison after serving more than three decades. But because he had not been declared innocent, the 61-year-old could not ask for compensation until the governor cleared his record last week.

It was the first time Haslam has granted clemency in his nearly seven years in office.

McKinney’s case had been championed by state Sen. Mark Pody, R-Mt. Juliet, and members of McKinney’s Wilson County church. In a 2016 interview, McKinney explained how difficult it’s been for him to survive financially after prison. When he was released, he was given only $75 and later secured a small federal pension.

“When I got a job in 2012, the church helped me get it. Then SSI sent me a bill saying I owe them $13,000. They overpaid me,” he said.

Social Security claimed that sum should not have been given to McKinney and tried to reclaim it. It began garnishing $300 each month from his entry-level wages



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