Birmingham, Ala., April 2 (Reuters) – A man who has been on death row in Alabama for nearly three decades is expected to walk free on the orders of a local judge, officials said on Thursday.
Anthony Ray Hinton is expected to be released on Friday from a jail in Jefferson County, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections said.
Prosecutors decided not to retry him for the killings of two fast-food managers in 1985 after experts failed to determine that the bullets were fired from the gun found at Hinton’s house, according to District Attorney John Bowers.
“I’m absolutely thrilled. Nothing has kept me up at night more than the fate of Mr. Hinton,” said his attorney, Bryan Stevenson, director of the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, who has worked on the case for 16 years.
“I don’t think I have ever had a case that so exemplified the problems with our criminal justice system,” he added.
Alabama Circuit Court Judge Laura Petro dismissed the case on Thursday a little over a year after Hinton’s conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hinton, 59, has been in jail since age 29, most of the time in a solitary death row cell, said his lawyer, adding that his client was emotional on Wednesday night before his court date.