A man who spent 34 years behind bars for the murder of a teenage girl has walked free thanks to new DNA evidence.
Lewis Fogle, who was locked up for the rape and shooting death of a 15-year-old girl, was released from a Pennsylvania prison on Thursday after a judge vacated his conviction.
The 63-year-old said he is looking forward to enjoying a steak.
His family was brought to tears upon learning he’d be released. He was only married to his wife, Deb, for three months before his conviction.
“He’s my husband and I love him,” she said. “It’s been a long, long process.”
1st pic of Lewis Fogle after being released after conviction overturned, he says tonight he "wants a steak" pic.twitter.com/rQbz8uBTlO— Melanie Gillespie (@WPXIMelanie) August 13, 2015
The new DNA evidence came from a semen sample gathered from Deann Katherine Long's body using new technology, said District Attorney Patrick Dougherty. Tests showed the semen didn't belong to Fogle.
Long's body was found in 1976 by a stranger picking blackberries in the woods. Fogle always denied involvement. He was the only one of four people arrested in 1981 to be tried.
After 34 years, Lewis Fogle is being set free. DNA evidence helped vacate his murder conviction, hear from his family pic.twitter.com/G1cx7SDQ05— Melanie Gillespie (@WPXIMelanie) August 13, 2015
The New York-based Innocence Project, who took on his case, said a judge issued the order in Indiana County.
"We are incredibly grateful to District Attorney Patrick Dougherty for working with us to conduct the DNA testing and for acknowledging that Mr. Fogle's conviction should be set aside," said David Loftis, managing attorney for the Innocence Project.
But Dougherty said this does not mean that Fogle has been exonerated in the case involving Deann Katherine Long.
"I am not agreeing that he is actually innocent," Dougherty said, according to The Associated Press. "I also don't want to let somebody out that deserves to be" in prison.
Fogle will be released on bond because he remains charged and could be retried. Dougherty will announce on Sept. 14 whether he will retry him for second-degree murder.
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