By DENNIS FERRIER, WZTV
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CIRCA via WZTV) — Randall Mills spent 11 years in jail based on a rape allegation made by a 12-year-old. His children suffered without their father. His son Dale, who worshiped his dad, took his own life while Randall was in prison.
"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about it," Mills said. "What I could have done. ... Why?"
What makes the situation even more unbearable for Mills is that DNA cleared him of the crime. Investigators say the child recanted her testimony, and the charges were dropped.
"No, no, no. No one can bring him back."
Mills was released from prison and taken off the sex offender registry.
The judge, the prosecutor, the victim, the evidence — all leading to a ruling that Mills is innocent. All that was left was exoneration. But the Tennessee Board of Parole refused to give Mills a hearing and wouldn't even listen to his case.
"The fundamental problem with the parole board is that it sees itself as a super court that can second-guess the judicial system's determination regarding guilt and innocence," attorney Daniel Horwtiz said. "At the same time, it has none of the tools that are necessary to draw those conclusions."
During Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's eight years in office, the parole board did not recommend a single person for exoneration.
Even Lawrence McKinney, a man imprisoned for 31 years for a rape he didn't commit, was denied. McKinney's case was so strong that for the first time in Tennessee history, a governor granted exoneration against the parole board's recommendation.
“The McKinney case was extremely unusual that the board refused to abide by a court order." attorney David Raybin said. "When you go in there with a court order that your client is innocent, they don't give that any credence at all.”
State Senator Mark Pody was so upset that he brought McKinney and the file to Haslam.
"You've got to stand or fall on that charge," Pody said. "I think there was plenty of evidence to say that charge needed to be dropped. The arguments had nothing to do with that charge, and that was a flaw in the system."
A flaw that remains while McKinney was granted $1 million in relief from the state for those 31 years stolen from him. Mills has nothing — no exoneration, no settlement and, unbearably, no Dale.
"No, no, no. No one can bring him back," Mills said.
The parole board denied Circa partner WZTV's request for an interview and denied to give a single reason for not granting Mills a hearing.
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