Darryl Pinkins was convicted in May of 1991 and sentenced shortly after.
He walked out of the Lake County Jail in Crown Point, Indiana, around 11 a.m. Monday. His attorney, Fran Watson, said he was released about a month shy of spending 25 years in prison.
His family waited to greet him outside.
Son of now exonerated criminal Darryl Pinkins waits outside Lake Co., IN jail for dad to walk free after 25 yrs pic.twitter.com/MO2Z05lJ8K— liz nagy (@liznagy) April 25, 2016
DNA evidence cleared Pinkins. Prosecutors opted not to try him again.
He's lost his teeth, he's now diabetic, and he has thyroid disease from decades in prison, But Pinkins is exonerated.
"It feels like this day was - was meant to be. And I know it was," he said.
Pinkins and Roosevelt Glenn spent decades of their adult lives trying to convince Lake County prosecutors and judges they were not rapists. They had to fight that battle while locked inside a jail cell.
"I stood back as an innocent man watching it fold out before me, and it wasn't right," Pinkins said.
"All because of a stranded car after work," Glenn said.
In 1991, prosecutors said these two men and another colleague bumped their car into a woman's car, then pulled her inside and sexually assaulted her for hours. The victim identified Pinkins as her attacker.
"We were 100 percent certain that we did in fact have the right person," said Bernard Carter, Lake County prosecutor.
"Until recently, there was no technology that could really do what I call dissect DNA mixture," said Fran Watson, attorney.
"Once they explained to us what DNA was, we told them to bring the test on because we know where we were," Pinkins said.
That technology cleared Pinkins as a criminal.
"When you look at the evidence that stands now, it would be an injustice for us to even attempt to try Mr. Pinkins. We would not convict him," Carter said.
Pinkins waited almost a quarter century to hear that.
"This is a new beginning," he said.
The Lake County prosecutor says even now the victim is still convinced Pinkins is the man who raped her. Carter says he is committed to finding the five men responsible for that 1989 crime, and he says Lake County will be using that DNA technology in many cases going forward.