An Ohio inmate pled not guilty yesterday to committing the 1998 murder and rape for which Clarence Elkins was wrongfully convicted. Earl Mann, 34, is currently serving a seven-year sentence for an unrelated rape. Prosecutors say the DNA tests that cleared Elkins link Mann to the murder of Elkins’ mother-in-law and the rape of his niece. Elkins, who was in the courtroom yesterday for Mann’s hearing, served over 6 years in prison before he was exonerated by DNA evidence.
Outside the courtroom after this morning's proceedings, Elkins said he had an immediate impression at the first sight of Mann sitting in the chair in jail in the moments before his arraignment began.
"I was just happy to see justice being served this time. It's a little late," he added, "but it's better late than never."
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. (Akron Beacon Journal, 07/11/2007)
Elkins and his family brought about his exoneration by investigating the case while he was incarcerated. When Elkins was incarcerated in the same prison with Mann, a neighbor at the time of the crime, he collected a cigarette butt from Mann and sent it to investigators, who confirmed that DNA from the cigarette matched DNA from the crime scene. Attorneys from the Ohio Innocence Project represented Elkins. Read more about Elkins’ case