Alabama death row inmate freed after nearly 30 years

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(CNN) -- Everyone who played a part in sending him to death row "will answer to God," former Alabama death row inmate Anthony Ray Hinton said Friday after his release following 30 years in prison.

"I shouldn't have (sat) on death row for 30 years. All they had to do was to test the gun. But when you think you're high and mighty and you're above the law, you don't have to answer to nobody. But I've got news for you -- everybody that played a part in sending me to death row, you will answer to God."

Hinton praised God for his release, saying he was sent "not just a lawyer, but the best lawyers."

He said he will continue to pray for the families of the 1985 murder victims whose deaths he was wrongly convicted of. Both he and those families have suffered a miscarriage of justice, he said.

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Laura Petro ordered him released after granting the state's motion to dismiss charges against him.


Our news partners at AL.com were in the courtroom on Thursday. Read extensive coverage here. 


"We are thrilled that Mr. Hinton will finally be released because he has unnecessarily spent years on Alabama's death row when evidence of his innocence was clearly presented," said Bryan Stevenson, an attorney for the Equal Justice Initiative, the group that helped win his release.

"The refusal of state prosecutors to re-examine this case despite persuasive and reliable evidence of innocence is disappointing and troubling."

Hinton is one of the longest-serving death row inmates in Alabama history and among the longest-serving prisoners to be freed, the Equal Justice Initiative said.

He was convicted in 1985 of two murders that happened that year, but a new trial was ordered in 2014 after firearms experts testified 12 years earlier that the revolver Hinton was said to have used in the crimes could not be matched to evidence in either case, and the two murders couldn't be linked to each other.

Hinton was 29 at the time of the killings and had always maintained his innocence, the Equal Justice Initiative said.

"Race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance, and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice," Stevenson said of his African-American client. "I can't think of a case that more urgently dramatizes the need for reform than what has happened to Anthony Ray Hinton."