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Assembly modifies standard for proving innocence

Thursday - 2/21/2013, 4:30pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia legislators have approved a one-word change in state law aimed at making it a little easier for wrongly convicted inmates to win exoneration.

The Senate voted 37-2 Thursday to pass the revision, which the House of Delegates approved earlier in the session.

Under the state's current law, an inmate can be exonerated based on new evidence upon a finding that no rational judge or jury could have found sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt supporting a conviction. Critics say the standard is so strict that it's nearly impossible to meet.

The legislation approved Thursday changes the word "could" to the less-stringent "would."

Democratic Sen. Don McEachin of Henrico County voted for the bill, but said the legislature could have done more.


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