Man released after sex crimes conviction is vacated

Far too often, the news surrounding criminal charges is bleak. Here and elsewhere, readers hear about individuals in Louisiana who have been charged with everything from murder and sex crimes to fraud and acts of minor theft. When a story breaks through and shows a different side of law and justice, it is a pleasure to be able to shine a light on a different aspect of our criminal justice system.

A man has been released from prison after he served nearly 24 years for rape. That conviction was vacated following an appellate court decision. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that prosecutors intentionally hid exculpatory evidence from the defense team during both the trial and subsequent appeals.

The man was also charged with manslaughter, a crime that he claims he did not commit. In that case, he agreed to enter a guilty plea in order to avoid a second life sentence. He is now asking that the case be given a second look. His legal team alleges that police cleared the man of that crime and also found no evidence to connect him to the other criminal activities with which he was charged.

The Louisiana man, now 42 years of age, was released on a recent Friday. His bond was set at just $36,000, which his family was able to cover. He will be given a new trial on the sex crimes charges, although a date for those hearings has not yet been set. As he re-enters society after such a long absence, he and his family are surely experiencing a mix of happiness, bitterness, frustration with our justice system and a heavy dose of relief.

Source: nola.com, "Robert Jones released on bail after 23 years at Angola", Emily Lane, Nov. 20, 2015

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