Man exonerated from prison speaks at Blue Ridge Community College

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WEYERS CAVE, Va. (WHSV) -- The Innocence Project is a non-profit legal organization that works, through DNA testing, to free the staggering number of innocent people they say remain incarcerated in American prisons.

On Monday, one man who benefited from those services shared his experience with students at Blue Ridge Community College.

In 1983, 18-year-old Marvin Anderson was picked out of a lineup as the man who raped a young white woman.

The man who was guilty of the crime was standing just three people away from him.

Anderson was sentenced to 210 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit and spent 15 years behind bars before being exonerated.

Anderson said he was denied parole six times because he wouldn't admit to committing the rape.

"Why should I admit to something I didn't do?" said Anderson.

Anderson said he cried for a whole week after being sent to prison, hoping what had happened to him was all a bad dream.

"I knew right off the bat, when she walked in the room and identified me and left. I knew I was going to prison," said Anderson.

In 2001, Marvin Anderson became the 99th person in the United States to be exonerated due to post-conviction DNA testing.

Since 2002, Anderson has been traveling across Virginia, sharing his message of hope, forgiveness and the need for change in our legal system.

"There's no way I could hate the victim, because what happened to her was real. She did not lie about what happened to her," said Anderson. "The only mistake that she made was she misidentified the wrong person, which was me."

Anderson also spoke about his life after exoneration. From a young age, he had wanted to be a firefighter. Today, he serves as Chief of the Hanover, Virginia Fire Department. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Innocence Project and has three children.

To learn more about the Innocence Project, you can tap this link: https://www.innocenceproject.org/.