DALLAS (AP) — A 56-year-old man who spent 25 years behind bars for a rape he says he didn't commit walked out of court a free man on Friday after a judge recommended his aggravated rape conviction be overturned.

Johnnie Earl Lindsey said he wrote six letters to a Dallas County court seeking post-conviction DNA testing that could prove his innocence. All six were ignored, he said.

"I couldn't get nobody to hear my case," said Lindsey. "Once I could get someone to pay attention to what's going on, there was no doubt in my mind I would be exonerated."

That day came Friday, about a week after testing on DNA evidence from a rape kit taken after a 1981 sexual assault of a Dallas woman excluded Lindsey as the source.

He becomes the 20th man in Dallas County proven innocent by DNA testing since 2001.