Mark Denny of Brooklyn was freed from prison Wednesday, after serving 30 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit.
Denny, 46, had been convicted of rape and robbery at a Burger King in 1987, but the only piece of admissible evidence against him was the eyewitness account of the worker who was attacked, according to NBC News.
Two men wearing ski masks surprised a male and female worker who were locking up around 2 a.m. The men forced the male employee into the stock room and proceeded to rape the woman, with at least one other man joining in on the assault, NBC News reports.
Denny was later arrested in his cousin Raphael James’ car after James had robbed several Burger Kings with two friends. James’ friends ended up taking plea deals; while Denny was tried and convicted alongside his cousin.
Denny never admitted guilt and had an alibi for when the crime was committed. The victim originally stated only three men attacked her, but later left open the possibility for a fourth perpetrator after Denny was arrested, according to NBC News.
The Innocence Project took on Denny’s case and brought it to the attention of the Kings County District Attorney’s conviction review unit. They later found Denny to be innocent and asked a judge to vacate his conviction.
“The crime was horrible and she did suffer tremendously,” Denny told NBC. “I wish I could have been the hero that day that she needed, but unfortunately, I wasn’t there.”
Denny said he had contemplated suicide but was given hope when the Innocence Project stepped in to defend him. “It made me look forward to this day. By the grace of God, I was able to make it through,” he told NBC News.
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