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DNA clears man of 1989 rape, according to Utah-based innocence center

Published March 20, 2013 12:53 pm

Courts • Nonprofit Innocence Center has spent 10 years trying to free the Wyoming man.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Wyoming man who has spent 23 years in prison is asking for a new trial based on DNA testing that purportedly confirms his innocence in a 1989 rape.

Andrew Johnson was convicted of sexual assault and aggravated burglary over 23 years ago in Cheyenne.

On Monday, attorneys with the Utah-based Rocky Mountain Innocence Center filed a motion in Wyoming's 1st District Court asking for a re-trial, claiming initial tests on newly found DNA evidence confirm the man's innocence.

The Innocence Center has worked on Johnson's case for over 10 years, according to a press release from the non-profit organization. The RMIC also lobbied for a change in Wyoming law on Anderson's behalf.

Prior to 2008, Wyoming did not have a law that provided prisoners with a right to petition court for DNA testing in their cases, according to RMIC. The center worked with Wyoming prosecutors to draft that law.

"Wyoming state officials and legislators should be applauded for passing legislation that gave Andrew a chance to prove his innocence," said RMIC Executive Director Jennifer Hare Salem in a news release.

A hearing on the motion for a new trial has yet to be scheduled.

According to a Wyoming Supreme Court decision, Johnson was drinking at a bar with friends and the victim, whom he knew through the victim's boyfriend, on June 10, 1989 in Cheyenne.

Johnson and the victim proceeded to go bar-hopping in Cheyenne before the woman left Johnson at a bar parking lot.

The woman went home, and later in the evening, a man identified by the victim as Johnson broke into her home and raped her.

Johnson had petitioned the Supreme Court for a new hearing in 1991 based on issues at trial, but that was denied.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller