NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - A court on Monday vacated the convictions of two men falsely accused of raping and kidnapping a New York City woman in 1991—thanks to DNA evidence proving their innocence.
"Today, your honor, we are here to achieve justice by righting an injustice," Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. said to the judge in court.
"I did 27 years for something I didn't do," Gregory Counts told the court. He was released last summer after serving more than 26 years.
"This wrongful conviction destroyed my life," Vandyke Perry said. He relocated to Oregon after spending more than a decade in prison.
"Greg was just 19 years old when he was arrested for this false accusation," Innocence Project senior staff attorney Seema Saifee said in court. "He told his mother, 'Mom, I didn't do this—don't waste your money bailing me out."
Perry and Counts were convicted solely on the accuser's testimony, but the accuser recanted her story two weeks ago to the district attorney's office in its joint effort with the Office of the Appellate Defender and the Innocence Project.
"It takes more than a village," Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, said. "It takes an army to correct a wrongful conviction."
Now the men are hoping to move on with their lives. Counts said he needs to find work and indeed he has a job interview next week.
Perry is headed back to Oregon with his wife and six kids. He said he was not staying in New York any longer because, "they railroaded me for a crime I didn't do."
The lawyers for all sides seemed to agree that the collaborative process that brought justice for these two men is the way forward for those in similar situations in the future.