Surrounded by news cameras and supporters, Lamonte McIntyre hugged his mother Friday for the first time as a free man in 23 years.
The 41-year-old Kansas native was wrongly convicted of a double murder and finally set free after spending more than half of his life behind bars. He was serving two life sentences.
The group Injustice Watch said McIntyre’s first words were: “It’s nice outside.”
McIntyre was originally convicted at the age of 17 on the testimony of witnesses who later recanted. Prosecutors presented no physical evidence or motive to tie him to the 1994 murders.
A judge was reconsidering the case in court hearings that were scheduled to last into next week, when the new prosecutor in the case said Friday in a news release that new information cast doubt on witness identification of McIntyre as the killer, and that a jury might have not convicted him.
“In light of information learned by my office since I began in January,” Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree said, “my office is requesting the Court find that manifest injustice exists.”
The original investigators of the daytime shooting never issued search warrants nor discovered a link between McIntyre and the victims, according to The Washington Post. He was arrested after less than 20 minutes of interviews.
“The investigation was hasty and superficial,” said the Midwest Innocence Project, which helped free McIntyre.
McIntyre has always maintained his innocence.
His mother Rose McIntyre, who was present when he was arrested decades ago, on Friday thanked “everybody who never gave up on my son,” according to the Kansas City Star, which reported that there were many tears in the courtroom when the man was finally freed.
“He (the judge) said, ‘You’re free.’ I almost hit the floor,” The Star quoted Rose McIntyre as saying.
“I want him to feel the sunlight.”