(NECN: Ally Donnelly) - For decades Benjamin LaGuer has claimed his innocence and fought for his freedom. Today, the convicted rapist in Massachusetts is once again making the case for his release from prison.
46-year-old Ben LaGuer says he has spent nearly 27 years behind bars for crimes he didn't commit, and, in his 4th attempt, he is asking the Massachusetts Parole Board to release him from prison early.
LaGuer: It's the most selfish thing to do, to plead for my life and yet to tell you that I'm far from the most selfish person you will meet.
Robert Barry says selfish is exactly what LaGuer is. Barry is the son in law of the then 59-year-old Leominster woman who LaGuer was convicted of beating, raping and sodomizing over an 8 hour period back in 1983. She has since died.
Barry: Ben LaGuer has portrayed himself as the victim from the very beginning, accepting no responsibility for this crime.
Despite being convicted of the vicious attack on his then neighbor, LaGuer has maintained his innocence over the past quarter of a century. His lawyer -- retired superior court judge Isaac Boorstein says he plans to file a motion for a new trial soon saying he has a witness who will testify that the victim was mentally unstable and incapable of identifying her attacker.
Boorstein: Having been treated and taking medication that calls into serious question her ability to perceive the events that took place at the time of the incident
Samantha Barry acknowledged her grandmother had some psychiatric issues.
Samantha Barry: "If you are brutally raped for eight hours and tied and sodomized and beaten, I'm sorry, but mental issues or not, you know who your attacker is."
For a time, LaGuer's case was a cause celeb for notable academics, politicians --including governor Deval Patrick before he was elected -- and some media.
Among supporters testifying for LaGuer were a flamboyant radio personality; a local Muslim leader and former president of Boston University John Silber who developed a relationship with LaGuer after professors teaching him in prison introduced them.
Silber: I think he is one of the finest examples of a courageous, honorable human being that I have ever met. Why should he apologize continually for things he didn't do. It's hard to get your mind around being innocent and being convicted.
The hearing was uncharacteristically long -- four hours -- and LaGuer and board members often got testy with each other.
LaGuer seemed to be attempting to retry the case -- saying he was railroaded by a racist jury and
that the DNA evidence which was recently processed at his request and seems to definitively link him to the rape was mishandled.
Board member Pamela Lombardini: You spend all your time stirring up the media and stirring up all the stuff with the court so I can't determine whether or not you could be safe out there because you haven't given me anything to hang my hat on. Nothing.
LaGuer was last up for parole about 7 years ago. The board voted against release 6 to zero. This board will take about 6-8 weeks to give its decision.