San Jose man exonerated of child molestation and kidnapping

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A San Jose man has been exonerated of child molestation charges some 27 years after he was convicted. Attorneys and volunteers with The Northern California Innocence Project were with Glenn Payne at the Hall of Justice Friday when a judge reversed his conviction.

Payne was convicted in 1991 of molesting and kidnapping a 2-year-old girl who lived in his neighborhood.

The girl was not able to testify due to her age. But, a criminologist testified that a hair on the girl's blanket and a hair on Payne linked him to the crime. The jury convicted him.

The Innocence Project took up the case in 2002 but was not able to move forward because the hair evidence had been destroyed. They tried again in 2016 based on the premise that the hair comparison science was bogus.

Two years later, Payne was exonerated. It's the first California state conviction reversed based on improper hair comparison testimony.

Payne was paroled in 2005 so he's been a "free man" for 13 years. But, as a registered sex offender, he's struggled to find housing and work.

He told The Innocence Project he was tired of living that way.
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