Man Who Spent Nearly 50 Years Behind Bars to Walk Free After Judge Throws Out Conviction

Playing Man Imprisoned for 46 Years Walks Free After Conviction Overturned


A Louisiana man is scheduled to walk free Wednesday after spending nearly 50 years in prison for the rape and kidnapping of a nurse.

A judge threw out the conviction of Wilbert Jones two weeks ago, calling the prosecution's case "weak at best" and saying authorities had withheld evidence that could have cleared Jones years ago.

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Prosecutors said they won't retry Jones, but will ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the decision of State District Court Judge Richard Anderson. Bail was set at $2,000.

"We will have the gumbo ready for him when he gets out," niece Wajeedah Jones said outside court after the judge's ruling, The Associated Press reported.

Now 65, Jones was 19 when he was arrested and charged with abducting a Baton Rouge nurse at gunpoint in the parking lot of a hospital where she worked.

He was convicted and sentenced to life without parole in 1974.

The case against him was based on the nurse's testimony and her "questionable identification" of Jones from a police lineup three months after the attack, the judge said.

The woman also said her assailant had a "much rougher" voice than Jones had. She died in 2008.

Defense lawyers said her description matched a man who was arrested but never charged in the rape of a woman kidnapped from another Baton Rouge hospital parking lot. That attack occurred 27 days after the nurse was raped. The man was arrested again in 1973 for the rape of another woman, but was only charged with armed robbery in that incident, Jones' attorneys said. 

The state failed to share this information with the defense, Judge Anderson said.

Read: Man Exonerated After 25 Years in Prison: 'I Told Y'all I Didn't Do This'

The Innocence Project New Orleans joined Jones' defense 15 years ago. 

Attorney Emily Maw became emotional as she spoke about the case.

"It takes a long time sometimes for courts to recognize a wrong," she said, choking back tears.