A Brooklyn man who spent ten years in prison for rape was cleared of his conviction yesterday. Tyrone Hicks finished his ten-year sentence seven years ago, but never stopped fighting to prove his innocence.
Hicks’ troubles started in 1998 when a man known as “the Bronx rapist” was terrorizing women in the area. When police put out a sketch of the rapist, even Hicks own family thought he bore an uncanny resemblance to the sketch. His parents thought he looked so much like the drawing, in fact, that they reported him to police as a possible suspect.
When a 27-year-old woman came forward claiming to be raped, police put Hicks in a line of suspects and asked the woman to identify the assailant. She pointed to Hicks. Police used the woman’s claim alone to both charge and convict him of rape.
Hicks spent the next ten years in prison. From the moment he arrived, he knew his time in jail would be hell.
“This Spanish guy told me that if I lay down and went to sleep, they were going to kill me right there,” Hicks told the New York Post.
During his time locked up, Hicks had his hair set on fire by inmates, developed diabetes, lost his wife to divorce, and missed the funerals of loved ones. He took refuge in the prison’s libraries, where he eagerly searched for law school exoneration programs that could help prove his innocence.
Upon his release from prison in 2007, Hicks met Adele Bernhard, director of New York Law School’s exoneration clinic. She agreed to take up his case.
After years of research, Bernhard and her team were able to prove Hicks wasn’t responsible for raping the woman years ago. They took never before tested scrapings from underneath the woman’s fingernails and found they did not contain any of Hicks' DNA.
After Bernhard and her team presented their case, Hicks' name was cleared of any wrongdoing.
“They never gave up on me,” Hicks said of the legal team he now calls his angels. “I’m so grateful.”
(Photo credit: New York Post)