MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui man imprisoned for a vicious attack is getting a new trial thanks to new DNA testing. Alvin Jardine III, 41, has spent nearly 20 years behind bars for the rape of a Haiku woman at her home in 1990. Jardine lived a few blocks away from the victim. His first two trials resulted in hung juries. He was finally convicted during a third trial in 1992.
The Hawaii Innocence Project helped to secure Jardine's release on Friday. This is the first time the group, made up of volunteer lawyers and University of Hawaii law school students, has gotten a conviction set aside in Hawaii.
"As fair as our judicial system is, and it's one of the fairer systems in the nation, mistakes happen," said defense attorney and Hawaii Innocence project member Brook Hart. "This is the first one that we've been able to uncover and prove."
Jardine was 21 years old when police arrested him for the rape.
"The only evidence they had was eyewitness identification, and the procedures they used were very suspect. Our client maintained his innocence," said defense attorney and Hawaii Innocence Project member William Harrison.
Jardine was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He has spent most of his time behind bars on the mainland. The Hawaii Innocence Project tracked down the only piece of evidence from the original trials -- a table cloth that was covering the chair the naked rapist sat on.
"The Innocence Project took that evidence and had it tested by a nationally-recognized DNA laboratory, and they excluded Alvin Jardine from all of the biological evidence found on that tablecloth," explained Hart.
Based on the new DNA testing, a judge ordered a new trial which is set for June 27.
"There was a lot of crying going on, a lot of jubilation because of the release, and so he has gotta get his life back in order," said Harrison.
"I'm sure he's overwhelmed with emotion having spent 20 years of his life in prison for something he still maintains he didn't do," said Hart.
Jardine's lawyers said he passed up the possibility of parole twice by refusing sex offender treatment that would have required him to admit his guilt.