Man who spent decades on US death row is freed

  • AFP, Angola
  • Updated: Mar 12, 2014 17:35 IST

A man who spent nearly 26 years on death row in Louisiana walked free of prison hours after a judge approved the state's motion to vacate the man's murder conviction in a the 1983 killing of a jeweller.

Glenn Ford, 64, had been on death row since August 1988 in connection with the death of 56-year-old Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport jeweller and watchmaker for whom Ford had done occasional yard work. Ford had always denied killing Rozeman.

Ford walked out the maximum security prison at Angola yesterday afternoon, said Pam Laborde, a spokeswoman for Louisiana's Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

Asked as he walked away from the prison gates about his release, Ford told WAFB-TV, "It feels good; my mind is going in all kind of directions. It feels good." Ford told the broadcast outlet he does harbour some resentment at being wrongly jailed: "Yeah, cause, 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," he added.

State District Judge Ramona Emanuel on Monday took the step of voiding Ford's conviction and sentence based on new information that corroborated his claim that he was not present or involved in Rozeman's death, Ford's attorneys said.

Ford was tried and convicted of first-degree murder in 1984 and sentenced to death.

"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," said a statement from Gary Clements and Aaron Novod, the attorneys for Ford from the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana.

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.

Currently, there are 83 men and two women serving death sentences in Louisiana, according to Laborde.

A Louisiana law entitles those who have served time but are later exonerated to receive compensation. It calls for payments of USD 25,000 per year of wrongful incarceration up to a maximum of USD 250,000, plus up to USD 80,000 for loss of "life opportunities."

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