A Tennessee man who was wrongfully imprisoned for more than half his life has finally received compensation—almost a decade after he was set free and handed a check for just $75. Lawrence McKinney, 61, was convicted of rape and burglary in 1978 but the conviction was overturned and he was released from prison in 2009 after DNA evidence cleared him of the crime. But despite the evidence, the parole board refused to grant him a complete exoneration, meaning McKinney was unable to seek compensation from the state until Gov. Bill Haslam granted him an executive exoneration in December, citing authorities' finding that McKinney "would not have been prosecuted if the DNA testing results had been available at the time of trial," Fox 17 reports.
On Wednesday, the Tennessee Board of Claims voted unanimously to give McKinney the maximum $1 million compensation for the lost 31 years of his life, the Tennessean reports. The former inmate, who married prison pen pal Dorothy after his release, will receive $353,000 up front to cover debts and attorneys' fees, with the remaining $647,000 funding an annuity that will pay him $3,350 a month. "We want to thank the board and the governor for standing by this man and seeing that justice was done," attorney David Raybin says. When he was formally exonerated, McKinney said being vindicated was more important than the money. "I never doubted it because God is in control," he said. "You can't be surprised when you serve the Lord." (Read more exoneration stories.)