Anthony Ray Hinton is free at last after 30 years on death row. The Washington Post reports,
Anthony Ray Hinton was one of Alabama’s longest-serving death row inmates, having spent more than half his life incarcerated. Now, after three decades of insisting that he is innocent in the 1985 murders of two men, the 58-year-old Hinton is finally a free man.
“The sun does shine,” Hinton said just after his release from jail on Friday, according to AL.com.
His freedom came down to the same four bullets that put him in jail to begin with.
“I shouldn’t have (sat) on death row for 30 years,” he told reporters according to CNN. “All they had to do was to test the gun.”
He added: “Everybody that played a part in sending me to death row, you will answer to God.”
Hinton was convicted of two separate killings of restaurant workers — the Feb. 25, 1985, slaying of John Davidson, and the July 2, 1985, killing of Thomas Vason — even though there were no eyewitnesses linking Hinton to the crimes, no fingerprints linking him to the scene, and no other physical evidence except for the questionable link between a set of bullets and a gun found in Hinton’s home.
Subsequent tests of the only physical evidence in the case raised serious doubts about whether the weapon in Hinton’s home had fired those bullets — and it even called into question whether the bullets were all fired from the same gun.
Why was he convicted, you ask? His lawyer thought he was limited to spending $1,000 to hire an expert, so he hired a civil engineer who was blind in one eye, could not handle a microscope and did not know much about ballistics. Needless to say, he did not fare well on cross examination.
The United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) unanimously vacated his conviction and death sentence last year and remanded the case to the trial court to hold a hearing to determine if his lawyer’s failure to provide effective assistance of counsel prejudiced his defense. He was granted a new trial and on Wednesday prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss the case on the ground that three ballistics experts could not link the bullets to the gun.
Thanks to one of my heroes, Bryan Stevenson, Anthony Ray Hinton is free at last.