A man who spent nearly 26 years on death row after being convicted of the murder of a jeweller has walked free.
Glenn Ford, 64, who had always maintained his innocence, left the maximum security prison at Angola, Louisiana, on Tuesday.
He said outside the gates: “It feels good. My mind is going in all kind of directions. It feels good.”
Asked he felt resentment at being wrongly imprisoned, he said: “Yeah, because I’ve been locked up almost 30 years for something I didn’t do.
“I can’t go back and do anything I should have been doing when I was 35, 38, 40, stuff like that.”
Ford was convicted in 1984 of the first-degree murder of 56-year-old Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweller and watchmaker for whom he had done occasional yard work.
He was sentenced to death and placed on death row in August 1988.
But on Monday, State District Judge Ramona Emanuel quashed Ford’s conviction and sentence based on new information that corroborated his claim that he was not present when Rozeman was killed.
His attorneys Gary Clements and Aaron Novod, of the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana, said in a statement: “We are very pleased to see Glenn Ford finally exonerated and we are particularly grateful that the prosecution and the court moved ahead so decisively to set Mr Ford free.”
They said Ford’s trial had been “profoundly compromised by inexperienced counsel and by the unconstitutional suppression of evidence, including information from an informant”.
They also cited what they said was a suppressed police report related to the time of the crime and evidence involving the murder weapon.
Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for Louisiana’s Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said there were currently 83 men and two women serving death sentences in the state.
A Louisiana law entitles those who have served time, but are later exonerated, to receive compensation.
It calls for payments of US$25,000 per year of wrongful incarceration up to a maximum of US$250,000, plus up to US$80,000 for loss of “life opportunities”.