Family gathers to remember man wrongfully accused of rape, murder

MOSELLE, MS (WDAM) - The family of a Pine Belt man wrongfully sentenced to life in prison gathered Sunday afternoon to remember his life and celebrate what would be his freedom post exoneration.

Family members of Larry Ruffin have gathered for food and fellowship each year since his February 10, 2011 exoneration. This came after DNA testing was obtained by the Innocence Project New Orleans to clear Ruffin's name of committing rape and murder.

"All the years he spent in prison won't go unnoticed," said Ruffin's sister Teresa Strickland. "We love him, and it just won't go unnoticed."

Ruffin was sentenced in 1989 and served more than two decades in Mississippi prisons. Before he could be exonerated, Ruffin died in a prison accident in 2002.

"Very hard, but we thank God we had the opportunity to still visit with our brother," said Strickland of family visits to the prisons. "We went once a month, faithfully, and we spent good quality time [with him]."

Dozens of members of Ruffin's family gather each February to commemorate his exoneration, and they also travel to New Orleans annually to celebrate other families who have been impacted by the Innocence Project.

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