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DNA Tests Free Imprisoned Brothers

December 4, 1997

BESSEMER, Ala. (AP) _ Two brothers imprisoned for 13 years for kidnapping and rape were freed after new DNA tests showed the men were not the attackers.

Ronnie and Dale Mahan were freed Tuesday by Judge Teresa Petelos, a day after a state forensic expert testified that semen found on the victim and her clothes excluded the Mahans as the rapists.

The test was unavailable in 1984 when the brothers, of McCalla, were convicted.

``I never gave up,″ Ronnie Mahan, 50, said after the hearing. ``It’d be different if we were guilty. I would have understood. But we didn’t do anything.″

Dale Mahan, 35, and his brother were freed on $5,000 bond each. Prosecutor Arthur Green said the men would likely be tried again.

They had always maintained their innocence, arguing they were together drinking the night of the assault. Each plans on suing the state for $1 million, The New York Times reported today.

It is at least the 47th time that DNA evidence has helped free convicts since the first such case in 1987, Huy D. Dao, assistant director of the Innocence Project, told the Times.

The victim, who attended a hearing Monday focusing on the new DNA evidence, remains convinced the Mahans were the men who attacked her.

``They were guilty 13 years ago and they’re guilty today,″ she said. ``I will not rest until these animals are left where they belong.″

She was 18 when she was abducted from a shopping mall on Nov. 30, 1983, taken to a wooded area, held captive for hours, forced to use drugs and raped four times.

Prosecutors said Dale Mahan raped the woman while Ronnie Mahan kept watch. Dale Mahan was sentenced to 35 years, while his brother was sentenced to life without parole under the state’s habitual offender act because of three previous convictions for property crimes.

The woman picked the Mahans out of a photograph lineup and identified them in court.

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