A man who has been wrongly convicted of murder is finally free after being behind bars for 27 years.
Willie Veasy, 54, with his family stepped out of a courthouse in Philadelphia on Wednesday after a judge ruled he was innocent of John Lewis' death in 1992 and dropped his life sentence without conditional release.
& # 39; I can walk away here the same way I walked in, & # 39; said Veasy. & # 39; An innocent man. & # 39;
The release of Veasy made it the tenth exemption since public prosecutor Larry Krasner took office last year and promised to help reverse illegal murder convictions through his Conviction Integrity unit.
Prosecutors now believe that the written confession that Veasy signed in 1992 was forced by two murder investigators who had a & # 39; pattern and practice & # 39; to enforce false confessions from suspects.
Willie Veasy, 54, stepped out of a courthouse in Philadelphia after a free man after 27 years in jail for a murder he had not committed
A judge ruled that he was innocent in John Lewis's death in 1992 and cast his life sentence without conditional release
Veasy embraced his sister, Ketra Veasy, after leaving the Center for Criminal Justice as a free man. She was only 12 when he was convicted
Those two officers, Martin Devlin and Paul Worrell, are now retired and the unit is investigating whether they had committed misconduct in the Veasy case or others.
The release of Veasy made it the tenth exemption since public prosecutor Larry Krasner took office last year
& # 39; Innocent people should not be in jail & # 39 ;, Krasner said at a press conference after Veasy was released. & # 39; It's not that hard. The system should be normal. It must be fair. & # 39;
An investigation showed that Devlin and Worrell also acted doubtfully in the destroyed case of Anthony Wright.
Wright said that Devlin attacked him before forcing him to confess that he had raped and killed a neighbor.
He was acquitted in a new trial in 2016 after DNA pointed to another man.
Wright came to the courthouse on Wednesday to support Veasy while he was released.
& # 39; None of us is free until we are all free! & # 39; Wright said.
& # 39; We carefully assess these cases & # 39 ;, Krasner said. & # 39; We try not to play politics with these matters. We try not to stand on one side. We are just trying to fulfill our duty of seeking justice. & # 39;
Judge Leon W. Tucker of the Common Pleas Court said to Veasy: & # 39; You are a free man & # 39; because she agreed to throw his case away and the prosecutors dropped all the charges against him.
At the time of his trial, Veasy's defense claimed that during a murder in a restaurant he worked as a dishwasher miles away.
According to the Philadelphia researcherProsecutors tried to discredit the alibi as less than airtight.
One of Veasy's former restaurant staff, Seth Schram, 54, attended the Wednesday hearing.
He had testified during the trial and said: & # 39; There is no question of & # 39; that Veasy was not working at the time of the murder.
& # 39; I didn't see it coming, but I believed this day was coming, really. I have been able to hold my mind for years and with such a family, that's all you need, & Veasy said
Ketra Veasy, center, sister of Willie Veasy, celebrated together with Celeste Trusty of FAMM, right, and Debra Chappell when they left the court after Veasy's exemption
The evidence against Veasy at the time also included an eyewitness who said she saw Veasy taking part in the murder, even though she admitted she had poor eyesight.
It took a jury four days to convict Veasy for second-degree murder in 1993, sentencing him to life without conditional conviction.
No one else was ever accused of the crime.
Last year, Krasner promised to transform the public prosecutor's office and appointed Patricia Cummings to lead the Conviction Integrity Unit.
In 22 months, the unit assessed requests with around 200 cases that led to ten exemptions.
Although most cases were left intact, researchers discovered that 5 percent of those cases had been traversed with major errors.
& # 39; Mr. Veasy and his loved ones deserve all the joy that his freedom brings, but this is not a moment of triumph for the city of Philadelphia, & # 39; said Krasner.
& # 39; A guilty man was released almost 30 years ago and a seemingly innocent man went to jail thanks to a culture of law enforcement at the time that placed a higher priority on winning business than doing justice or maintaining the constitution & # 39;
Veasy said: I didn't see it coming, but I believed that this day would come, really. I have been able to maintain common sense for years and with such a family that is all you need. & # 39;
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