A North Carolina man who spent 44 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit was freed on Thursday.
Mr Ronnie Long, 64, was a 20-year-old Black man living in Concord when he was accused of raping a white woman, Sarah Judson Bost, at knifepoint in her home on the evening of the 25 April 1976.
Long was sentenced to 80 years in prison for the first-degree rape of Sarah Bost and first-degree burglary by an all-white jury in the 70s, Daily Mail reports.
Despite decades of appeals to overturn the conviction, and though DNA evidence obtained throughout the years pointed to his innocence, he remained in jail.
Long (pictured in his mugshot photo) was a 20-year-old Black man living in Concord when he was accused of raping white woman Sarah Judson Bost, now 54, at knifepoint in her home in April 1976.
The DNA evidence in question was that hair samples and clothing fibers didn’t match those of Long’s.
According to news reports, the evidence was not shared with the defense at the time of the trial.
In 2015, it was revealed that 43 fingerprints taken from the scene ‘excluded’ the prisoner as the source of the prints.
A request for a new trial was still rejected by the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals the same year.
Long was put in a photo lineup as the only man wearing a leather jacket, which was allegedly what was worn on the night of the attack, according to court records.
At the time, detectives said they thought the suspected rapist might have been among defendants in court on other charges the same day.
Long had an alibi for the time of the assault.
His mother, who he lived with at the time, and the mother of his child said he was on a group phone call with them.
He was getting ready to attend a party in Charlotte at the time of the assault, they said.
The 4th Circuit opinion, led by Judge Stephanie D. Thacker, cited ‘a troubling and striking pattern of deliberate police suppression of material evidence.’