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Rape suspect walks free after innocent man spends 14 years in prison

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NORMAN, Okla. - An Oklahoma man spent 14 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.  Now, the man whose DNA linked him to the crime is free to do whatever he wants.

The crime happened back in 1982 when an OU college student was raped in her apartment.

Thomas Webb was arrested and convicted of the crime.

He served 14 years of his 60 year sentence before being exonerated by DNA in 1996.

“I went in when I was 21 years old and came out when I was 36,” said Webb.

After Webb was released, the case went cold, until last year when prosecutors charged Gilbert Duane Harris with 1st Degree Rape and Forcible Sodomy.

DNA was collected in 1982 from the victim's robe, but investigators couldn't find a match until Harris went to jail in Louisiana.

But, since the rape happened in 1982, the statute of limitations has run out.

Even though prosecutors knew they had a narrow chance of trying Harris for the crime, they gave it their best shot.

A judge eventually dismissed the case.

Now, even though DNA proves who the real rapist is, it is too late for the state to prosecute, so the man will now walk free.

While prosecutors are disappointed Harris will never be convicted, they say this case proves the importance of DNA testing.

Read more on what led to Harris' arrest here

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