James Bain was convicted in 1974 of raping a nine-year-old boy in Lake Wales, Florida.
The boy was kidnapped from his home, dragged to a baseball field, and raped by a man he described as having bushy sideburns and a mustache.
A relative of the victim’s thought that the description sounded like James Bain. Bain’s photo was included in a lineup of five photographs, and the victim picked Bain as his attacker.
Based on the identification and little else, Bain was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Bain had no criminal record at the time of his arrest, and insisted he was at home watching television with his sister when the crime occurred.
Bain began seeking DNA testing of evidence from the crime in 2001, but was unsuccessful until the Innocence Project of Florida accepted his case in 2005.
In 2009, DNA testing of the evidence showed no match between Bain and biological material left at the crime scene by the perpetrator. Bain was released on December 17, 2009, after prosecutors filed a motion to vacate his conviction and sentence.
He had spent 35 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit—more than any other person exonerated through DNA testing in the United States. Bain was only 19 years old when convicted; he was 54 when he was finally set free.
In 2011, the State of Florida awarded him $1.75 million in compensation.