Grand jury meets: three men officially exonerated

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Forrest County grand jury met Tuesday, lasting in to the evening where special prosecutor Jon Mark Weathers presented the cases of Larry Ruffin, Phillip Bivens and Bobby Ray Dixon. When it was over the grand jury returned a no-bill, officially exonerating them of a 30 year old crime.

Ruffin, Bivens and Dixon were serving life sentences for the 1979 rape and murder of Eva Gail Patterson in Forrest County. All there men were cleared of their convictions back in September when new DNA evidence showed they didn't commit the crime.

A meeting of the grand jury was the last step to officially become exonerated, but unfortunately only one of them is still alive to see it happen.

Larry Ruffin died back in 2002 from cardiac arrest while still in prison. Bobby Ray Dixon died in November after loosing his battle with cancer. Phillip Bivens, the only one living, now lives in New Orleans.

The same DNA that freed these men also points to a man named Andrew Harris as the person who allegedly committed this crime.

Harris is already serving a life sentence for another Forrest County Rape two years after Patterson's.

As of now it's unclear whether the grand jury has or will indict Harris for the crime.

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