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DNA evidence frees two men convicted in 1986 rape

November 18, 1997

CHICAGO (AP) _ DNA evidence not allowed at trial exonerated two men who have served 11 years in prison for a rape they did not commit.

Cook County Judge Daniel J. Kelly vacated the convictions of Donald Reynods and Billy Wardell on Monday. He ordered new trials, but prosecutors said they would drop charges against both men.

The ruling cleared the way for their release today. They were serving 55-year sentences and would not have been eligible for parole until 2013.

Reynolds, 31, and Wardell, 32, were convicted of raping a University of Chicago sophomore on May 3, 1986.

Reynolds asked a judge to order genetic testing. The judge refused, saying the procedure had not gained wide acceptance among scientists.

Reynolds called lawyer David W. Gleicher about a year ago, saying he was a victim of mistaken identity.

Gleicher got a court order allowing a DNA test on semen that had been preserved as evidence. Tests at a private lab in Maryland proved it could not have come from Reynolds. The results were confirmed by the Illinois State Police crime lab, which also ruled out Wardell.

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