Alan Newton Was Imprisoned for 20 years for a Crime He Didn't Commit!
This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 13, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Forty-four-year-old Alan Newton was released from jail last year after serving 21 years — that's almost half his life — for a 1984 rape we know now he did not commit.
Newton had tried unsuccessfully for 12 years to have the rape kit in his case tested for DNA, but with the help from the lawyers from the Innocence Project, Newton made one last request and the judge approved. The rape kit was located, and the DNA test conclusively excludes Newton as the rapist.
Joining us now, Alan Newton, along with his attorney, Vanessa Potkin from the Innocence Project. Thank you.
You did great work here, obviously.
And Alan, I can only imagine what you've gone through. Eighteen years for a crime you didn't commit. You clearly were aware that you did not commit it. Nobody else did.
ALAN NEWTON, FREED PRISONER: My family knew though. And my friends knew, you know. That's why that support was there consistently.
COLMES: How did you get roped into this accusation in the first place?
NEWTON: Basically, I had a fight some years ago. And I got my record. I caught a record, and I had a picture in the police books and, unfortunately, you know, that caught up to me. That picture was used, you know, to put me in the lineup. And here I am now.
COLMES: So they showed you in the lineup, and you were identified positively by a picture and then in a lineup.
COLMES: And that was the beginning of the end in terms of 18 years incarcerated. How did you wind up finally finding a rape kit that apparently had been lost the last time they looked for it, right, a number of years ago?
VANESSA POTKIN, INNOCENCE PROJECT: Absolutely. Alan first started asking for testing in 1994. He was filing motions on his own without counsel. And repeatedly officials at the NYPD said that they did a search for the rape kit and that they couldn't find it.
Of course, in 2004, we reached out to the Bronx district attorney's office and Lisa Conderman, who heads the sex crimes unit. You know, really asked for a thorough search. And the rape kit, lo and behold, was exactly on the shelf where it should have been.
COLMES: That's got to be maddening. All those years go by. You're sitting there in jail. They can't find this rape kit, which was the key to your exoneration.
NEWTON: Yes, it was.
COLMES: One has got to think you must be frustrated, angry, bitter, a large part of your life spent where you shouldn't have been.
NEWTON: Exactly. You know what I mean, you get disappointed, you get down, you get depressed. And you know, when I started doing the time, I was angry. But I realized that anger wasn't doing nothing for me. I had to use something else to try to express what I was feeling inside.
COLMES: How did you keep going for 18 years?
NEWTON: My faith. You know, that was one thing. My family kept me up. And absolute positively...
COLMES: You believed that you saw a light. You believed one day there'd be a light at the end of the tunnel?
NEWTON: I knew that rape kit was there. Let's put it like that. I knew it existed, and I knew it would prove my innocence.
COLMES: The Innocence Project does this. This is the 100-and-something case where you have found the ability to get someone free who was wrongfully convicted.
POTKIN: He was the 181 person. He was released last Thursday, and since that time another additional person from Connecticut has been proven innocent through DNA testing.
I will say Al at this point is not so frustrated. But at the Innocence Project, we are incredibly frustrated because it has been more difficult for us to find evidence in New York City than almost any other jurisdiction in the country. And we closed out 17 cases because we were told that evidence was lost or destroyed. It's a problem that we really need to deal with.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Alan, first of all, I'm so happy that you're out. I mean, this is outrageous. You know, this is half your life. You know, I find it amazing. You're not angry. You're not bitter. How do you say that? I mean, that's half your life stolen from you.
NEWTON: I'm focused. I focused my attention on what was important. Because the anger eats you up inside. You can't grow with that anger. I had to channel that energy into what was important
HANNITY: How did you channel it?
NEWTON: I went to school. I stayed busy. I exercised. I read. I prayed. You know, I thank God. I spoke with my family. When I got depressed, they picked me up.
NEWTON: They kept me going.
HANNITY: How tough is jail?
NEWTON: Jail is tough.
HANNITY: It's tough.
NEWTON: It's supposed to be tough, you know, but you do what you've got to do to survive in there. You know, you mind your business, you do your time. Don't let the time do you.
HANNITY: The woman that made this accusation has since died. Do you have any anger, bitterness towards her?
NEWTON: I've been asked that question a lot, and you know what I realized? She also received no justice.
HANNITY: Why do you say that?
NEWTON: Because the person that actually did this to her is maybe still walking around. He may be in jail. And if she was still alive and I got free today, what would she be thinking?
HANNITY: Do you believe she made an innocent mistake?
NEWTON: Yes, I really do.
HANNITY: You don't think it was conscious?
NEWTON: Because I didn't know her. So it wasn't personal. It wasn't a date rape kind of thing, you know, it wasn't he said, she said, you know. We didn't know each other.
HANNITY: Sounds like you've sort of — have you resolved this in your mind? Is this a forgiveness thing? Is this — you're a Christian? Or what's your faith? Or is this — that's a pretty strong — I'm not the most forgiving person in the world. I want you to know, in all sincerity, that's pretty powerful.
NEWTON: Because I look at like this also, she's a woman. I have five sisters and numerous nieces, and if something was done to them, I would feel real bad.
HANNITY: But how do you find it in your heart to forgive her? I mean, what is the foundation of that?
NEWTON: You have to dig down deep for that.
HANNITY: You do.
NEWTON: Every person has their own...
HANNITY: Last question. I want to know, what are your plans? What do you want to do with your life now?
NEWTON: I want to go to school. I want to start earning a living. I want a job. You know, I want to find a place. I want to find a home.
HANNITY: This is great work that you guys have done, you and Barry Scheck.
NEWTON: Yes, it is.
HANNITY: I'm glad you're free.
NEWTON: Thank you very much.
HANNITY: Best of luck to you. God bless you the rest of your life.
COLMES: Congratulations on the great work you do.
POTKIN: Thank you.
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