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  another man framed for murder freed after 7 years in jail do to DNA testing

Original Article

Dec 15, 2:31 PM EST

DNA clears man in mother-in-law's murder

By JOHN McCARTHY Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- DNA evidence from a cigarette butt cleared a man imprisoned for seven years in the rape and murder of his mother-in-law, and the charges against him were dropped Thursday.

Clarence Elkins, 42, should be released from prison later in the day, prisons system spokeswoman Andrea Dean said.

Elkins, who was serving a life sentence and would not have been eligible for parole until 2054, was convicted in the 1998 rape and murder of Judith Johnson, 58, as well as the rape of her then-6-year-old granddaughter.

DNA evidence showed he could not have committed the crimes, said Bill Canterbury, spokesman for the Summit County prosecutor's office, which tried the case in 1998.

Elkins learned of his impending release from his wife, Melinda Elkins: "I said, 'Pack your bags, you're coming home baby.'"

He said he "was just overwhelmed with joy and tears of joy. I was amazed it was so soon. I thought it was going to drag out," Elkins said by phone from Mansfield Correctional Institution.

Elkins helped secure the DNA sample of the investigation's current focus - fellow inmate Earl Gene Mann - by retrieving a cigarette butt Mann had used.

Mann, 32, is serving a seven-year sentence for raping three girls. He has not been officially linked to the crimes for which Elkins was convicted but Canterbury said he recently failed five polygraph tests about his role in the crimes.

Mann had a relationship with a woman who lived near one of the victims, Canterbury said.