IUPUI law students, prof help to free convicted man

By By U Wire

By U Wire

INDIANAPOLIS?Larry Mayes is a free man for the first time in 21 years.

Through the efforts of four Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis law students, a dedicated professor and results from DNA tests, Mayes’ convictions were overturned and he was released with all charges dismissed Dec. 21, 2001.

Mayes’ story begins in Gary, Ind., in 1981. After being identified by an eyewitness, he was arrested and charged with holding up a gas station and kidnapping and raping the clerk.

He was convicted in 1982 of rape, criminal deviant conduct, and robbery, all felonies under Indiana state law. He has been imprisoned ever since, all the while maintaining his innocence.

Students at New York’s Cordoza University first took Mayes’ case to task, working with a program called Project Innocence, started by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufield, two lawyers on O.J. Simpson’s dream team.

After Cordoza had studied the case with little results, IUPUI students joined what had then become the Innocence Network, which linked several law schools together for the purpose of taking up cases where inadequate counsel was provided or other procedures were not followed, such as DNA testing.

Edward Queen, a graduate student at the IU School of Law-Indianapolis, was one of the four students who worked the Mayes case.

“While some may see the release of Mr. Mayes as a vindication of the United States legal system, it stands instead as a serious indictment to its weakness and failings,” Queen said. “Mr. Mayes is a free man today because of luck?luck that the true perpetrator’s DNA was locatable, and that over 20 years later it was still testable.”

Many connected to the case agree that luck definitely played a part in Mayes’ exoneration. A new law, effective only eight days prior to filing a DNA petition, allowed for testing to be done in cases where it might vindicate the prisoner.

Alicia Corder, an IUPUI law school graduate, also worked the case.

“It started with shock,” she said, describing how she felt when she learned Mayes had been freed. “Then it went to pure joy. Then it turned to sadness when I realized that Mr. Mayes had been in prison since I was 5 years old.”

U Wire