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Man, 38, convicted of rape is freed from prison after the victim belatedly realized he was her ex

Man, 38, who was convicted of rape on DNA evidence 20 years after crime is freed from prison after the victim belatedly realized she had dated him in high school when she saw a picture of him aged 16

  • James Chad-Lewis Clay, from Detroit, Michigan, was convicted by a jury in 2017 
  • The victim reported being raped in 1997, and DNA evidence was taken
  • The DNA matched Clay, and at the 2017 trial she testified she had never had consensual sex with him, and he was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison
  • Clay did not recognize the woman, and always maintained his innocence
  • He later recognized her as a teenage girlfriend when he saw her in court 
  • A private investigator showed the woman, now 37, a picture of Clay aged 16  
  • When the victim saw that she realized he was not the man that attacked her
  • Clay walked out of the Macomb Correctional Facility Tuesday afternoon 

A man convicted of rape on DNA evidence 20 years after the crime has been freed from prison after the victim belatedly realized she had dated him in high school when she saw a picture of him aged 16.  

James Chad-Lewis Clay, from Detroit, Michigan, was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison in 2017. 

The unnamed woman was raped in 1997 at the age of 15, and DNA evidence was taken, at around the time she had dated Clay.

But the case was not looked at for more than a decade until the DNA evidence was discovered in a police storage facility 2009. 

Clay’s DNA was eventually matched due to his records being on file for a felony conviction, and he faced trial for rape.

At the trial, the woman did not recognize Clay – who she knew as Chad – and testified that she had never had consensual sex with him.

Clay had also initially said he did not recognize the woman – but had always maintained his innocence. 

He later recognized her as his teenage girlfriend when he saw her in court but the jury was not told that, The Detroit Free Press reports. 

James Chad-Lewis Clay, from Detroit, Michigan, was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison in 2017 after the woman testified she had never had consensual sex with him, despite DNA found on her matching his. He is pictured at the time of his arrest 

When the victim saw this picture of Clay at the age they dated she realized he was not the man that attacked her in an alley in Detroit after all. In fact, she had had consensual sex with him in 1997, around the time she was raped

When the victim saw this picture of Clay at the age they dated she realized he was not the man that attacked her in an alley in Detroit after all. In fact, she had had consensual sex with him in 1997, around the time she was raped

TIMELINE OF THE CASE 

November 1997 – Girl, 15, is raped in an alley in Detroit with evidence taken. 

2009 – The untested kit is found.

2015 – It is tested and James Chad-Lewis Clay’s DNA is found in swabs.

March 2017 – The woman is shown six pictures, including one of Clay, but does not identify her attacker.

August 4, 2017 – Clay tells police he does not know the woman and has not had sex with after he is shown a picture of her from 2015. He is arraigned on sexual assault charges. 

August 16, 2017 – Victim testifies she never had consensual sex with Clay who says he then recognized the victim as his ex.

November 9, 2017 – Clay found guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

December 7 2017 – Clay is sentence to 25-50 years in prison.

February 23, 2019 – Victim is shown a picture of Clay aged 16 and she recognizes him as her ex boyfriend. 

June 11, 2019 – Prosecutors launch a review after an investigation by The Detroit Free Press.

July 23, 2019 – Clay is freed from prison.  

What the jury did hear was Clay repeatedly saying he did not know the woman and had not had sex with her. 

He told police in an earlier interview: ‘It’s impossible. I don’t even know this woman. It’s impossible for my DNA to come up in her.’ 

He was found guilty. 

More than year after the conviction, a private investigator, hired by his mother, showed the woman, now 37, a picture of Clay at age 16. 

And when the victim saw a picture of him at the age they dated she realized he was not the man that attacked her in an alley in Detroit after all. 

In fact, she had had consensual sex with him in 1997, around the time she was raped. 

Steve Crane, the private investigator, told the Free Press: ‘You could see it hit her like a brick wall.’

A court document filed by prosecutors and the defense said: ‘This new information seriously calls into question the integrity of defendant’s conviction.’ 

Clay walked out of the Macomb Correctional Facility Tuesday afternoon. He missed the birth of his first grandchild while in prison.

He said: ‘To be free from this nightmare is amazing. It’s the best feeling to be able to go home to my children and my mother. I couldn’t ask for more.’

Clay added: It took for the media to get involved to get this case resolved. If it wasn’t for the media, I would’ve still been in prison.’  

It is understood the case will now go back to Wayne County Circuit Court for a decision on any new trial. 

James Chad-Lewis Clay, left, walks to hug his mother Ethel Marie Lyons after being released from the Macomb Correctional Facility in Lenox. Wayne County prosecutors agree that Clay should be free on bond while awaiting a new court hearing

James Chad-Lewis Clay, left, walks to hug his mother Ethel Marie Lyons after being released from the Macomb Correctional Facility in Lenox. Wayne County prosecutors agree that Clay should be free on bond while awaiting a new court hearing

James Chad-Lewis Clay, center left, with his brother Jeremy Lyons, left, mother Ethel Marie Lyons, and god brother Dimitri Parker, FaceTime their family after Clay was released

James Chad-Lewis Clay, center left, with his brother Jeremy Lyons, left, mother Ethel Marie Lyons, and god brother Dimitri Parker, FaceTime their family after Clay was released

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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