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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Death Row man freed after 30 years

Published 03/04/2015 | 17:21

Pat Turner hugs Ray Hinton, facing, who was set free after spending nearly 30 years on death row in Alabama (AP)
Pat Turner hugs Ray Hinton, facing, who was set free after spending nearly 30 years on death row in Alabama (AP)
Ray Hinton, who spent nearly 30 years on death row will go free after prosecutors told a court that there is not enough evidence to link him to the 1985 murders he was convicted of committing (AP/Alabama Dept of Corrections)

A man who spent nearly 30 years on Alabama's death row has been freed after a decades-long fight to prove his innocence.

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Ray Hinton, 58, was released this morning from the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham. He hugged family members as he walked out, saying, "Thank you Jesus."

Hinton was convicted of the 1985 murders of two Birmingham fast-food restaurant managers who were shot dead.

Crime scene bullets were the only evidence that linked Hinton to the crime. However, prosecutors said this week that modern forensic methods failed to show that the fatal bullets came from a revolver in Hinton's home, or even from the same gun.

Hinton said he should not have had to sit on death row for nearly 30 years because "all they had to do was test the gun".

Bryan Stevenson, Hinton's lawyer and director of the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, said: "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."

The US Supreme Court ruled last year that Hinton had inadequate counsel and sent the case back for a second trial. Prosecutors had been preparing for a retrial but moved to dismiss the case following the testing on the bullets.

Mr Stevenson said he became convinced of Hinton's innocence when he took on the case 16 years ago.

"He was a poor person who was convicted because he didn't have the money to prove his innocence at trial. He was unable to get the legal help he needed for years. He was convicted based on bad science," he added.

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