The 55-year-old man was released on Wednesday after a Miami-Dade judge overturned his 1991 life sentence for misidentification in a felony.
Shortly before the judge’s decision was known, Katherine Fernández Rundle, a Florida 11th District attorney, had stated that she was seeking the annulment of Thomas Raynard James’ trial because of “false identity.”
“Repeal what is the unjust judgment of an innocent man. Today [quarta-feira] we nullify the injustice that was an unintentional mistake. We ask the court to give this man what he deserves, “said the state prosecutor, accompanied by Thomas Raynard James, who was still in prison at the time in uniform and handcuffs.
Leaving without a red prison uniform, James replied to the “world” when reporters asked what the next stage of his life is now that he is a free man, according to the Miami Herald.
For James, this was the end of a long road of rejected complaints and media interviews in which he claimed he was not guilty of the murder of Francis McKinnon.
The Miami-Dale Prosecutor’s Office reopened the case last year and concluded that James, who spent 32 years in prison, did not kill McKinnon during a home attack in South Miami in January 1990.
Throughout the trial, there was not a single piece of physical evidence to accuse James, and the verdict that resulted in life imprisonment was based primarily on a key witness, Dorothy Walton, the victim’s daughter, who was present during the incident and identified the man. from a group of photos sent by agents.
However, the woman corrected her version over the years and, as she mentioned to local television channel NBC 6, assumed the author of the fatal shot was not James.
Thomas Raynard James, then 23, was arrested shortly after the crime for another incident unrelated to the incident, and while in prison, he was charged with the murder of McKinnon.
On the day of the crime, some men went to the house where Francis McKinnon and Ethra McKinnon lived and showed guns to those who lived there.
When McKinnon, a Vietnam War veteran who suffered from PTSD, heard noises from his house and faced armed assailants, one of the robbers fired first.
Police later arrested Thomas Raynard James, although no match was ever found between his fingerprint and the fingerprints found in the house during the investigation.
James has always defended his innocence and stressed that it was a “false identity.”
According to local media, McKinnon’s family members were not happy with the judge’s decision.