Oklahoma man to receive $175K for wrongful conviction

ajc.com

Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

An Oklahoma man who spent 13 years in prison for a rape he did not commit will be paid $175,000 by the state after waiting more than two decades, NBC News reported.

Explore>> Read more trending news

Convicted in 1983 of raping a student at the University of Oklahoma, Thomas Webb III was exonerated in 1996 by DNA evidence that pointed to someone else ─ and proved that the victim had mistakenly identified him. He came home to a wife who'd married him behind bars and spearheaded his appeal. He found a well-paid job in computers. But his untreated emotional wounds led him to drink heavily.

The payout is the maximum amount Oklahoma law allows people who have been wrongfully convicted to collect. He is not allowed to ask for anything more, but Webb said he will happily sign the paperwork.

"For the first time, the state of Oklahoma has accepted the fact that I have been wronged," Webb, 56, told NBC News on Wednesday. "That gives me closure, a feeling that justice, in my frame of reference, has been done, that amends have been made."

After Webb was released, authorities entered the DNA evidence into criminal databases, and identified a suspect who'd raped a young girl while Webb was just starting his prison sentence. But the statute of limitations prevented authorities from prosecuting the man, NBC News reported.

Around the same time, Webb was approached by his accuser, who apologized. He forgave her.

Webb hired a lawyer, Rand Eddy, who helped him with his compensation fight. The battle was won Tuesday, and all Webb needs to do is sign the agreement and wait for a judge to approve it. After that, he should receive a check, NBC News reported.

Webb said the money is just another step in the healing process.

"But, hell, a public apology would have been the cheapest way to come to that," he said.

About the Author