BARTOW, Fla. — James Bain made his first-ever cellphone call Thursday, dialling his elderly mother to tell her he had been freed after 35 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit.
Mobile devices didn’t exist in 1974, the year he was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping a nine-year-old boy and raping him in a nearby field.
Neither did the sophisticated DNA testing that officials more recently used to determine he could not have been the rapist.
Bain has spent more time in prison than any of the 246 inmates previously exonerated by DNA evidence in the United States, according to the Innocence Project of Florida.
The longest-serving before him was James Woodard of Dallas, who was released last year after spending more than 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
“Nothing can replace the years Jamie has lost,” said Seth Miller, a lawyer for the project, which helped Bain win freedom. “Today is a day of renewal.”
As Bain walked out of the Polk County courthouse Thursday, wearing a black T-shirt that said “Not Guilty,” he spoke of his deep faith and said he does not harbour any anger.
“No, I’m not angry,” he said. “Because I’ve got God.”º