Wrongfully convicted black man, 64, finally free after 44 years in prison

After more than four decades behind bars, an innocent black man was finally freed from North Carolina prison. 

Ronnie Long, 64, a black man from North Carolina, spent 44 long years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Last week, Mr. Long, who has always maintained his innocence, was unexpectedly released after the State of North Carolina admitted it could no longer defend the case. As per Upworthy, a federal appeals court determined that he had been an unfortunate victim of ‘extreme and continuous police misconduct.’ 

In an interview with CBS News, Mr. Long said:

“To be able to walk out of them gates without being supervised, it was breathtaking!”

The 64-year-old man walked out of the North Carolina jail last Thursday, 44 years after being falsely imprisoned. 

Mr. Long was welcomed by family and friends, who always believed in his innocence.

Ronnie Long was wrongfully incriminated for allegedly breaking into a home in Concord, North Carolina, and raping a 54-year-old woman named Sarah Bost. He was arrested in May 1976. Although there was no physical evidence he committed the crime, he was sentenced to 80 years in prison after being deemed guilty by an all-white jury.

Credits: FreeRonnieLong

Nearly 30 years after Mr. Long was jailed, Concord police investigators had tested a dozen pieces of evidence, all of which supported his innocence. However, the results of the investigation remained hidden until now.

Jamie Lau from the Duke University, Mr. Long’s lawyer, revealed in an interview that the defense didn’t know there were 43 fingerprints and a hair found at the crime scene that didn’t match Ronnie’s. Attorneys for the state argued that the evidence wouldn’t have changed the initial conclusion, so Mr. Long remained in prison.

After long years of fighting for his innocence, Mr. Long is finally free!

When his attorney told him he is released, Mr. Long couldn’t believe the news. He said:

“You serious? The state can’t go back on their word? They gonna stick to what they say?”

Understandably, the man who spent over four decades behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit said he felt as though the criminal justice system in North Carolina failed him.

“I’m 64, going on 65. They took my life away from me when I was 20 years old. I ain’t got nothing but memories. But yet, and still, you say the evidence collected in the case was immaterial?”

Credits: FreeRonnieLong

Now, Mr. Long hopes he could spend time with his family and his beloved wife AshLeigh Long, whom he married in 2014. He shared that one of the first things he wants to do, now that he has his freedom, is to visit his parents’ graves and tell them he is clear.

“I know my mother and father died with a broken heart. I’m gonna tell them now when I visit the gravesite, ‘Your son is clear.'”

A GoFundMe page was established by Ronnie’s wife, who wishes to help her husband get back on his feet after spending most of his life in prison. There’s also a petition set up by the Black Lives Matter movement to defund the police.

Congratulations, Ronnie Long!

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