A wrongfully convicted man has finally walked free, 38 long years after he was sentenced to life in prison for a rape he did not commit, and he didn’t leave alone.
Innocent, a 9-month-old black Lab he raised while behind bars, was also set free by the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
“I named her Inn because I was innocent and she was innocent,” Alexander said. Asked what he planned to do with his four-legged friend now they were both free, the former inmate replied, “We going to the park and we’re going to chase birds. She likes to chase birds.”
Alexander was 21 when he was sentenced to Angola. His case was hampered by incompetent legal counsel, according to the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that helps exonerate those wrongfully imprisoned by reopening their cases and conducting DNA tests on evidence from their trials.
In Alexander’s case, genetic testing eliminated him as a suspect. Innocence Project attorneys also said he was mistakenly and “tentatively” selected from a photo lineup by the victim.
“The stakes in this case couldn’t have been higher for Mr. Alexander who faced a mandatory sentence of life without parole, yet the attorney that he entrusted with his life did next to nothing to defend him,” said Vanessa Potkin, the project’s post-conviction litigation director.
Innocent was the runt of a 10-puppy litter, born to a mom that was the prison pet of a friend of Alexander’s. He picked her because she needed the most love, Alexander said.
Prison officials allowed him to keep her as a pet. They interacted in common areas where Alexander worked.
When Alexander walked free last month, Innocent trotted out the next day. She was delivered by Innocence Project employees to a home where her freed owner was staying with family.
“I feel beautiful,” Alexander said as he hugged and petted Inn as she nuzzled and licked him. “I feel happy, very happy. I feel happy for her. I told you we gonna be free,” he said to the wriggling puppy. “This is the end and complete.”