Black man freed from prison 44 years after being wrongly convicted of rape

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Aug 29, 2020, 11:34 AM(IST)

Ronnie Long speaks to reporters Photograph:( AFP )

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Ronnie Long, now 64, was accused of raping a White woman. He walked out of the North Carolina prison on Thursday, and credited his advocates and loved ones for persevering through the long legal battle.

A Black man was freed from a US prison after serving 44 years for a crime he maintains he didn't commit.

Ronnie Long, now 64, was accused of raping a White woman. He walked out of the North Carolina prison on Thursday, and credited his advocates and loved ones for persevering through the long legal battle.

An all-White jury found him guilty of rape and burglary in 1976 and him sentenced to life in prison. His conviction was vacated Thursday after the state of North Carolina filed a motion in federal court seeking to do so.

The evidence, which included semen samples and fingerprints from the crime scene that did not match Long, was deliberately withheld by law enforcement, US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephanie Thacker said in the filing.

The withholding of evidence meant that Long was already facing an unfair trial, Long's attorney, Jamie Lau said. But the racial dynamics at the time also worked against him.

Long was accused of raping a 54-year old White woman in Concord, North Carolina, on April 25, 1976. She reported that a perpetrator attacked her in her home, assaulted her and fled, according to the court filing.

The case was tried by an all-White jury. Every witness for the prosecution was White, while every witness for the defense was Black, Lau said.

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