A former sailor imprisoned for the 1982 murder of a Virgnia man and the rape of his wife he did not commit is set to be freed on Friday, after a writ of innocence was granted by the Virginia Supreme Court.
Keith Allen Harward will be released from the Nottoway Correctional Center at 1 p.m., his lawyer told Richmond.com. He had been imprisoned for 33 years.
Harward 60, was convicted based on experts matching his his teeth with the bite marks found on the rape victim’s legs.
DNA testing by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science failed to match Harward with the sperm left by the rapist. The DNA matched with Jerry L. Crotty, a fellow sailor on the USS Carl Vinson, who had died in Ohio prison in 2006.
Crotty had been convicted of abduction, burglary, and other crimes.
— Innocence Project (@innocence) April 5, 2016
“This is wonderful news and it’s great to know that Mr. Harward will soon be reunited with his family,” Virginia state Attorney General Mark Herring said. “It’s just heartbreaking to think that more than half of his life was spent behind bars when he didn’t belong there.”
The attorney general office is also working with the police to remove Harward from the Sex Offender Registry.
“The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that petitioner has proven all of the requirements … and that no rational trier of fact would have found proof of Harward’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” reads the writ of innocence from the Virginia Supreme Court.
This is the fifth writ of innocence ever issued by the Virginia Supreme Court based on new biological evidence, the attorney general’s office said.