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RICHMOND (AP) -- Questions are being raised about the convictions of two men who were sentenced to long prison terms for a 1996 Norfolk rape.

The Innocence Project says DNA testing clears the two men, one of whom died in prison in December 2012.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch says the Innocence Project has filed a petition for a writ of actual innocence on behalf of 63-year-old Nathaniel E. Epps. He is serving a 153-year sentence at the Greensville Correctional Center. His brother-in-law, Percell F. Warren, died at the Deerfield Correctional Center.

The DNA testing was on sperm found in jeans worn by the victim. The petition says the testing shows that Warren's DNA was not identified in the mixture of male DNA, but that Epps could not be definitively excluded.

Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney spokeswoman Amanda Howie told WVEC.com the Petition for a Writ of Actual Innocence was filed last month.

'The petitioner's counsel is asking for the stay in the Virginia Supreme Court's proceedings on the Petition for a Writ of Actual Innocence, while they seek to have an order entered in Norfolk Circuit Court authorizing additional post-conviction DNA testing at the petitioner's expense. Our Office is reviewing the petitioner's request and communicating with the involved parties.'

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com

AP-WF-03-14-14 0926GMT

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