Jerry Mitchell – Innocent man died in Mississippi prison

HATTIESBURG — Larry Ruffin spent 23 years behind bars for a rape and murder that DNA shows he did not commit, but he will never walk free from prison.

He died in 2002.

“Every time I think about it, tears come to my eyes,” said Ernestine Arrington, Ruffin’s sister.

The Innocence Project pushed for the DNA tests that ended up clearing not only Ruffin, but Bobby Ray Dixon and Phillip Bivens, also convicted of the May 4, 1979, murder of Eva Gail Patterson in Hattiesburg. DNA from the crime scene matched Andrew Harris, who already is serving a life sentence in Parchman for another rape in Forrest County two years after Patterson’s.

Patterson’s family could not be reached for comment.