4 Black men exonerated more than 70 years after being wrongly accused of raping a White teen girl

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Deaths bring number of people convicted of rape, rape with a dangerous weapon and murder that DNA evidence has exonerated to 243

4 Black men exonerated more than 70 years after being wrongly accused of raping a White teen girl

Four men have been exonerated for allegedly raping a White teenager more than 70 years ago, bringing the number of men exonerated in the US based on DNA evidence to 243.

The oldest man who was exonerated is now 91, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was 19 when he was arrested in 1948, and died in 2010.

The men were held in jail for more than 17 years. They were each released on bail and later arrested for the same charges they were initially accused of – rape and kidnapping.

They have since been charged with only one murder.

The first to be exonerated was 66-year-old Brian Vanawick, who was freed in September 2011 and died in 2012. Three other men in his case were also cleared: Raymond Fields, who died in 2002; Howard Lashbrook, who died in 2014; and George Henderson, who died in 2014.

Henderson was freed in February 2012 after DNA test results matched bone fragments found at the scene of the 1948 rape.

Henderson’s DNA linked him to the case. Photograph: Photo courtesy of The Ron Tengblad Law Firm

The convictions of Henderson, Fields and Lashbrook were vacated in May 2012 when Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey dropped the rape charges against the three men.

Tengblad, a Torrance attorney, brought all four cases to the attention of the district attorney’s office. He hopes to bring similar cases to light in the future.

“It is extremely important for people to understand that each of these individuals was a victim of wrongful conviction, and each was wrongly imprisoned for over 15 years,” Tengblad said in a statement.

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