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Judge vacates conviction to set free man on death row

Louisiana State News
13 Mar 2014, 10:08 GMT+10

ANGOLA, Louisiana - A man who spent almost 30 years in prison 26 of them on death row finally walked free after a court ordered the vacation of his conviction for the murder he didn't commit.

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

Ford had always denied killing Rozeman. But he could not prove his innocence until new information corroborated Ford's claim that he was not present at nor involved in the November 5, 1983, slaying of Rozeman.

Ford, a black man, was tried and convicted of first-degree murder in 1984 by an all-white jury and sentenced to death in 1988.

According to the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana, a judge Monday ordered that Ford be freed after prosecutors petitioned the court to release him.

"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 Ford free," said Gary Clements and Aaron Novod, Ford's attorneys, in a statement.

His attorneys argued his trial was compromised by the unconstitutional suppression of evidence and by inexperienced counsel.

"After 30 years, Louisiana's longest-serving death row prisoner will get his freedom," Amnesty International USA senior campaigner Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris said in a statement shortly before his release.

"Glenn Ford is living proof of just how flawed our justice system truly is. We are moved that Ford, an African-American man convicted by an all-white jury, will be able to leave death row a survivor."

Ford told journalists outside the maximum security prison at Angola that he was feeling "good" as he walked free.

"My mind is going in all kind of directions," he told WAFB-TV.

Ford told the broadcast outlet he does harbor some resentment at being wrongly jailed. "Yeah, cause, I've been locked up almot 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

"My sons -- when I left -- was babies. Now they grown men with babies," he said.

"Thirty years of my life, if not all of it," he said, WAFB reported. "I can't go back."

Ford will be eligible for compensation of just $250,000. The law in Louisiana only allows wrongfully-convicted prisoners to claim compensation of $25,000 a year, and only to a maximum of $250,000.

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