A US judge on Thursday ordered the release of a black man who was wrongfully convicted as a teenager of rape in New Orleans after overturning his conviction and spending 36 years in prison.
Sullivan Walter, now 53, was seen wiping away tears after a district judge formally overturned his conviction for breaking into and raping a woman.
Judge Daryl Derbini expressed his anger that the evidence in the case that could have exonerated him did not reach the jury, the reported by the media.
After appearing in court in New Orleans, Walter was transferred to Ellen Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, where he was officially released.
The office of the District Attorney, Jason Williams, has joined forces with defence attorneys working with the Innocence Project New Orleans, a criminal justice advocacy organization, to overturn the conviction.
Walter, who was 17, was arrested on charges of rape in New Orleans, knowing that the rapist had entered the home of the victim, identified by records as LS, in May 1986, put a knife in her throat and threatened to harm her 8-year-old son. Who was asleep during the accident?
Emily Mau, a lawyer in Williams’ office, said there were reasons to believe that the victim, the only witness, had mistakenly identified Walter.
“There were indications that eyewitness testimony could be unreliable,” she added.
She pointed out that the victim was not shown a set of photographs containing Walter until six weeks after the crime.