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Man freed after serving 20 years for homicide he did not commit

Another wrongly convicted man has been freed. A North Carolina man has just recently been released from prison after spending 20 years for a homicide he didn't commit. He's grayed and balding, with beveled edges chiseled into his rugged features. He was sent to prison 20 years ago for the murder of a Duplin County bootlegger. The conviction was based on the testimony of one woman, who changed her story five years ago.

The Duplin County District Attorney's Office recently dropped the charge and a judge threw out the conviction. Of course the judge couldn't reverse 20 years of pain, humiliation and lost dreams for a man trapped behind bars. He was the last of three suspects convicted under the criminal law, sent to prison and now released pursuant to an admittedly flawed prosecution. Even the retired prosecutor who had handled the case now says he can't be sure who committed the crime.

One thing remains true: there was never any physical evidence linking the man or the others to the homicide. He maintained his criminal defense of innocence throughout the ordeal. It's unknown why the witness would have wanted to give a false story to convict three innocent men. The man is now with his family, but the years have taken a hard and haunting payment from him.

His spouse died in 2005, and his children have been needy and struggling without him for many years. There was nothing he could do to make things better for them. All in all, he seems to have internalized an abiding sense of faith that he would be freed one day.

In North Carolina as well as all other states, revelations in recent years have proved that numerous homicide and capital cases have been wrongfully prosecuted against innocent persons. The innocence projects are operating in all states, and have used the bedrock technology of DNA testing to prove the irrefutable innocence of hundreds of individuals throughout the country. Whether you agree or disagree with capital punishment, it would be extremely regrettable to find out that innocent people are being executed under false applications of the criminal law for the mere sake of expediency and finality.

Source: wnct.com, "Man wrongly-convicted of murder sits down with 9 on your side," Kristen Hunter, Aug. 16, 2013

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