Joseph Sledge leaving a North Carolina jail after serving a 37-year sentence for murders he didn't commit
Sunday, January 25, 2015
A 70-year-old man who has spent 37 years in prison for a double-murder he did not commit has been freed.
Joseph Sledge was wrongfully convicted of stabbing to death a mother and her adult daughter in 1976. On Friday, a panel of three judges at an innocence hearing unanimously found he was innocent of the killings and ordered his release.
Sledge's fight to clear his name had been plagued by lost evidence, NBC News reported.
In 2012, court clerks who were cleaning out a vault found a misplaced envelope of key evidence on a high shelf.
The envelope contained hair that was found on one of the victims and is believed to belong to the attacker.
Joseph Sledge will now live in Savannah, Georgia, with his family
The victims, 74-year-old Josephine Davis and her 57-year-old daughter, Aileen - who was also sexually assaulted - were stabbed to death in September 1976.
None of the evidence collected from the scene, including hair, DNA and fingerprints, belonged to Sledge, forensic experts confirmed.
Sledge, who walked out of a North Carolina jail with a bin bag full of belongings, will live in Savannah, Georgia, with his family.
He told reporters he was looking forward to: "Going home. Relaxing. Sleeping in a real bed. Probably get in a pool of water and swim for a little while."
He said that he never doubted he'd be freed one day. "I had confidence in my own self. The self will and the patience," he said, adding, "Patience is the word."