Death row inmate freed after nearly 30 years

Published 1:18 pm Friday, April 3, 2015

An inmate on Alabama’s death row for almost 30 years was released Friday, according to multiple media reports and first reported by

Anthony Ray Hinton

Anthony Ray Hinton

Anthony Ray Hinton, 58, was originally sentenced to death after being charged in the 1985 deaths of two fast-food restaurant managers in the Birmingham metropolitan area.

However, he was freed Friday morning after prosecutors dismissed those charges. New testing methods available proved it was unclear that the crime scene bullets were fired from the .38-caliber handgun found in Hinton’s home. Reportedly, the gun belonged to Hinton’s mother, who shared the home with him.

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Friday, Hinton walked out of the Jefferson County Jail as a free man for the first time in almost three decades. He had been awaiting his re-trial at the jail.

Hinton had been serving time at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore since Dec. 15, 1986, according to Department of Corrections records.

Last year, Hinton was granted a re-trial in the case, after the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Hinton’s original trial attorney could have hired a better ballistics expert. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Hinton’s constitutional right to a fair trial had been violated.

On Wednesday, Chief Deputy Jefferson County District Attorney John Bowers and Assistant District Attorney Mike Anderton filed a motion to drop the charges against Hinton, after three experts were reportedly unable to link the bullets to the weapon. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Laura Petro dismissed the case and ordered Hinton freed, eliminating any need for a re-trial.

In a statement, Hinton’s attorney Bryan Stevenson said that the case was a “textbook example of injustice.” Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, based out of Montgomery.

““Race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance, and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice,” Stevenson said. “I can’t think of a case that more urgently dramatizes the need for reform than what has happened to Anthony Ray Hinton.”