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American to spend 32 years in prison for ‘misidentification’


After 32 years in prison, Thomas Raynard James has been released after his sentence in the United States was overturned, prosecutors acknowledging that he had been “wrongly convicted”.

Thomas Raynard James spent 32 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. On Wednesday, after three decades, he was released after a judge announced that his sentence was overturned, NBC News reports. The now 55-year-old black man was ‘wrongly convicted’ after ‘misidentification’, prosecutors have acknowledged. He was only 22 when he was indicted in 1990 for the murder of Francis McKinnon. At the time, he was recognized by a witness, Dorothy Walton, who claimed to have seen him shoot the victim during a burglary in Coconut Grove, Florida.

But after reopening the investigation, Miami justice recognized “that Thomas Raynard James is actually innocent of all charges”. “He finally has his victory,” reacted the lawyer for the former convict, Natlie Figgers, to “People”. “He is obviously happy. But also in shock. He suffers from post-traumatic stress. It’s amazing that he is no longer in prison. He has plenty of time to get used to it, but for the moment, what affects him the most is knowing that he was imprisoned for 32 years for something he did not do. she added, explaining that she had never doubted him. “I told him I didn’t know how long it was going to take, but I was going to get him out, that was my promise,” she recalled. “All the evidence showed it wasn’t him.”

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Prosecutors explained that in a “fortuitous coincidence”, “defendant Thomas Raynard James has the same name as a suspect named by witnesses, which led to his picture ending up in the file, and then that it provokes a mistaken identification”. At the time of the trial, Dorothy Walton had however sworn that he was indeed the shooter, saying that she would “never forget his face”. Later, she returned to her testimony, indicating that she was “probably mistaken”, writes the “New York Times”.

State’s Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said James’ case was “an unfortunate case of mistaken identity,” the newspaper said. “Across the country, eyewitness testimony, in the absence of any forensic evidence, is always tricky.” Thomas Raynard James’ lawyer said his client was now waiting to obtain “all the resources to move forward in life, and to undergo therapy”. “From day one he wasn’t mad at anyone, he just wanted someone to trust him and fight for him.” He now hopes to launch an association for people who experience similar situations to his.



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