An Alabama man who spent almost 30 years on death row will be released after prosecutors told the court that there is insufficient evidence connecting him to the crime which he was convicted of.
Anthony Ray Hinton has been imprisoned since the age of 29 after he was convicted of two killings which occurred during two separate robberies of fast food restaurants in Birmingham in 1985. He was linked to the murders after prosecutors found a .38-caliber revolver at his house.
Last year, the US Supreme Court sent Hinton's case back for a new trial, triggering a re-assessment of the evidence.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge, Laura Petro, dismissed the case against Hinton on Thursday (2 April), after being told that the district attorney's forensic experts couldn't determine if the six crime scene bullets were from the same gun seized from his house. The bullets were the crux of the evidence against Hinton. Neither fingerprints from the scene of the crime nor polygraph tests implicated Hinton of the crimes for which he was imprisoned.
"We've been hoping for this. We've believed that this should have happened," said Bryan Stevenson, Hinton's lawyer and director of the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, which advocates the rights of poor and minority prisoners in the justice system.
Stevenson said his client wept at the news of his release after years of insisting that he was innocent and at his job at a warehouse when the crimes were committed. Hinton has spent over half his life behind bars, mostly in a solitary death row cell.
"Every day, every month, every year that the state took from him, they took something that they don't have the power to give back. While this moment is quite joyous and is quite wonderful, this case is quite tragic," Stevenson said.
Anthony Ray Hinton is scheduled to be released today, 3 April, 2015.