Speed Reads

justice is (finally) served

His conviction overturned, Louisiana man walks free after 45 years in prison

A Louisiana judge overturned the rape conviction of a 65-year-old man who has spent the last 45 years in prison, writing that prosecutors withheld evidence that could have exonerated Wilbert Jones.

Jones left the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Wednesday, his family and friends waiting for him outside the gates. "Freedom — after more than 45 years and 10 months, that's going through my mind," he told reporters. Spending so much of his life in prison wasn't easy, but "I forgave," he said. "I forgive. I didn't have control of it. Why should I worry about it? I'm in charge of myself."

He was arrested at 19, and eventually convicted of aggravated rape of a nurse who was abducted from her hospital parking lot. The nurse picked Jones out of a lineup more than three months after the attack, but told police the man who raped her was taller than Jones and had a "much rougher" voice, The Associated Press reports. Jones' attorneys say the description of the rapist given by the nurse matches a man who was arrested but not charged with the rape and abduction of a woman kidnapped from another Baton Rouge hospital parking lot 27 days after the nurse was attacked. There was evidence showing authorities knew of the similarities between that man and the nurse's description of her rapist, yet "the state failed to provide this information to the defense," State District Judge Richard Anderson said. Jones' attorney, Emily Maw, said her client showed "extraordinary strength" after spending "over 16,000 days in prison for something he didn't do."