updated 7/11/2006 11:11:39 AM ET 2006-07-11T15:11:39

A judge on Tuesday erased the rape conviction of a man who was exonerated by DNA evidence after spending 18 years in prison.

Recent DNA tests proved that evidence on the victim’s clothing from the 1988 crime did not match James Calvin Tillman’s genetic profile, contradicting circumstantial evidence used to convict him in 1989.

Tillman, 44, was released on his own recognizance June 6. He had been sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Tillman was 26, living in a homeless shelter and working at a car wash when he was charged with abducting a woman as she got into her car near a Hartford restaurant, then beating and raping her at a nearby housing project.

He maintained his innocence and rejected a plea bargain that would have given him eight years in prison.

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