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Wrongfully accused?

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April 15, 2003

MOUNDSVILLE - An Albany family is hoping their son will return home soon after spending 16 years in prison. Jimmy Gardner was sentenced to 76 years in prison for raping two women in West Virginia.

Gardner was playing on a minor league baseball team. He's getting a second trial because the star witness, former state chemist Fred Zain, is accused of tampering with DNA evidence in 134 cases.

"First day he's been in court in 16 years so I'm excited, I hope the charges are dropped and they let him come home," Gardner's brother Eric said.

The chemist died last year before going to trial. Gardner's family say they've always been more concerned with the Albany native's innocence than Zain's guilt. Jimmy Gardner realizes his playing days are over but hopes to return to South Georgia to coach baseball.

posted at 5:45 p.m. by dave.d'marko@walb.com