Thursday, May 29, 2003

Inmate freed by DNA accused of shoplifting

By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Less than a year after DNA evidence freed him from a 20-year sentence for rape, Herman May Jr. is back in trouble with the law.

The 32-year-old Frankfort man was arrested Friday on a shoplifting charge, Franklin County court records show. A Frankfort Kmart employee said May was caught stealing a portable CD player, stickers and magnets worth $94, the record shows.

May posted bond and was released. He did not enter a plea.

With help from two law students at Northern Kentucky University, May was released from prison in September after serving 13 years on a rape conviction. The students were part of the Kentucky Innocence Project, an effort by the Department of Public Advocacy to locate and test DNA evidence that might win the freedom of the wrongly convicted.

In May's case, new DNA information cast doubt on his guilt but fell short of proving his innocence. Franklin Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden set aside May's conviction, ruling that the evidence most likely would have resulted in his acquittal had it been available at the 1989 trial.

On Wednesday, Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland said he has not yet decided whether to retry May on the rape charge.

Friday's incident at Kmart is the latest in a string of legal problems May has faced since his release. He was arrested in December and again in March on marijuana possession and traffic-related charges, records show.

His attorney, Jerry Anderson of Lexington, said Wednesday he'll be negotiating a guilty plea for May in those cases. He will probably be fined and lose his driver's license, the attorney said.

His client "has some growing up to do," Anderson said.

"Herman's not used to being outside" of prison, he said. "I told his dad, 'You need to get him out of a car. This boy can't drive.' "

As for the possibility of a new trial on the rape charge, Anderson said the prosecutor, Cleveland, has offered to drop the matter if May pleads guilty to a felony - receiving stolen property - that occurred around the time of the rape in 1988.

Anderson said he and his client are still considering that deal. Cleveland declined to comment.


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