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1990 kidnapping & rape suspect exonerated after DNA testing

DNA tests conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab cast doubt on the evidence.

NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. — A man in prison for 30 years for a crime he said he didn't commit was recently exonerated by the Newton County District Attorney's Office, after being released from prison last fall.

Ron Jacobsen was charged with raping a store clerk in 1990 in Covington.

He maintained his innocence and had witnesses who testified that he was with them in Tennessee at the time of the crime. But he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

RELATED: Georgia man convicted in 1985 double-murder exonerated after 20 years in prison

Jacobsen wrote to the New York-based Innocence Project, which took on his case, and in 2017, DNA tests conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab cast doubt on the evidence.

Jacobsen's conviction wasn't ultimately overturned until two years later in February of 2019.

Finally, on November 4 of last year, he was able to be released from prison on $500,000 bail and he returned to his home of New York, where he has reportedly been confined while awaiting a potential new trial.

“The District Attorney’s Office fought DNA testing in this case and then opposed a new trial even after DNA testing excluded Mr. Jacobsen as the assailant. It later fought to keep him in jail after his conviction was vacated, claiming that it would retry him for over two years in spite of the exonerating DNA evidence,” said Vanessa Potkin, Jacobsen’s attorney.

“They did the right thing,” Jacobsen, 61, said Wednesday. “It should have happened earlier. But it’s here. It’s done. I’m relieved.”

In a statement, District Attorney Randy McGinley said his review of the case led him to believe he could not convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Jacobsen committed the crime. He cited the new DNA evidence, the passage of time, and the death of a witness among the reasons why.

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