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Wrong Conviction Court declares man innocent after 39 years in Jail

Joseph Sledge was convicted of killing a mother and daughter in 1976 but was deemed innocent on Friday.

  • Published:
  play A district attorney apologises to Sledge. (Associate Press)
  play Joseph Sledge served 39 years in jail. (Associate Press)

A 70-year-old man in North Carolina, United States of America, Joseph Sledge has been released from jail after he was wrongly convicted of a murder in 1976.

Joseph Sledge was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 74-year-old Josephine Davis and her 57-year-old daughter, Aileen.

After serving nearly four decades in jail, Joseph Sledge was on Friday, January 23 found innocent by a three-judge panel in Whileville, North Carolina.

The three-judge panel was set by the Supreme Court after North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission found there was enough doubt to review Sledge's case.

A key jailhouse informant, Herman Baker, signed an affidavit in 2013 recanting trial testimony. Baker said he lied at the 1978 trial after being promised leniency in his own drug case and he said he'd been coached by authorities on what to say.

A district attorney who was not originally involved apologized to Sledge and promised to reopen the investigation.

The system has made a mistake,” district attorney Jon David said.

When he was asked by reporters outside the courthouse on what he was looking forward to doing now that is free, Joseph Sledge said; “Going home. Relaxing. Sleeping in a real bed. Probably get in a pool of water and swim.” 

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