Convicted rapist fighting for release in Orange Co.



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A convicted rapist began a fight to win his freedom Monday in Orange County.

Tommie Lee Andrews was convicted of raping two women in 1987.

The conviction became part of legal history, because it was the first one ever based on DNA evidence.

Andrews was originally sentenced to 100 years in prison. That sentence was later reduced and then cut down again.

He's scheduled for release at the end of this month.

A Jimmy Ryce Act hearing that began Monday could keep his release from happening.

The family of one of Andrews' victims said he'll rape again if released.

Andrews sat in court with a stack of documents in front of him, ready to defend himself. He's acting as his own attorney.

Theresa Hodge said he is still the violent rapist who attacked her sister more than 20 years ago.

"He's a danger to society. He is out there to hurt people," Hodge said.

Her sister is set to testify for the state, which will try to convince a jury that Andrews is too dangerous to be released.

Prosecutors want him sent to a sex offender rehabilitation center.

Andrews is arguing that he's already served his time and is no longer a threat to society.

Andrews didn't say much during jury selection, aside from an awkward line of questioning the judge had to interrupt several times.

Andrews was convicted of two rapes but is suspected to have attacked other victims.

His case drew national attention when prosecutors used DNA evidence to convict him, making it the first DNA conviction on record.

Now he's days away from being free.

The victim's mother said that's just not right.

"He doesn't accept what he did. Until you do, you can't be rehabilitated," said Mel Hair, Theresa Hodge's mother.

The Jimmy Ryce Act was created so that a person classified as a sexually violent predator could be involuntarily committed for treatment until that person is no longer considered a threat to the public.

For someone to be civilly committed, it must be determined that the person has been convicted and has a mental health disorder.