A Detroit man who spent four decades behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit is finally a free man after officials found the evidence that sent him to prison was flawed.
Ledura Watkins was just 20 years old when he was convicted in the 1975 fatal shooting of Yvette Ingram, who was killed during a robbery at her home, authorities said.
Watkins was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison after police lab analysts determined a single hair found in the victim’s pants could have come from him.
But prosecutors now say the conclusions made don’t match today’s scientific standards, The Associated Press reported.
Watkins walked out of Wayne County Jail Thursday after a court hearing that saw his conviction overturned.
“It’s really surreal ... kind of unbelievable,” he told reporters. “But I’m feeling great. I expected this to happen. I didn’t think it would take 41 years.”
Watkins spent years trying to clear his name. The Innocence Project at Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School also took up his case, and in January asked authorities to set aside the conviction.
“It is simply a lab analyst’s subjective opinion and has no place in our criminal justice system. This is why a state-wide review of hair comparison cases is critical,” Marla Mitchell-Cichon told The AP.
Following his release, Watkins planned to have dinner with friends and family, saying: “It took me years to get to this point. I don’t want to touch another law book.”
He is the second Michigan man in two months to be released from prison after having a decades-old conviction tossed.
Desmond Ricks was freed in late May after serving 25 years for the fatal shooting of a friend outside a restaurant.
An analysis of two bullets taken from the victim showed they didn’t match the gun that was offered as the murder weapon at Ricks’ trial in 1992.