The headline was disturbingly familiar: A person, usually male and often black, who has spent a substantial stretch of his life behind bars is freed after DNA evidence shows he is innocent.
That was the case for Horace Roberts, 60, who was released from a California prison 3 October after DNA evidence exonerated him in the 1998 killing of his former girlfriend and co-worker.
“I could not believe it was me walking out of prison,” Mr Roberts said when he was freed earlier this week. “When you are in prison, you do not know if you will ever get out.”
Mike Hestrin, the Riverside County district attorney, said in a statement: “What happened to Mr Roberts is tragic.”
He added, “Once I learned of the new DNA findings, I immediately directed that all charges be dismissed.”
In 1999, Mr Roberts was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to 15 years to life in the killing of Terry Cheek, a co-worker he had supervised at Quest Diagnostics and with whom he had an affair.
He initially lied about that relationship to investigators after she was found strangled near a deserted stretch of Interstate 15 near Lake Corona, California, according to Michael Semanchik, the lead lawyer on Mr Roberts’ case and the managing lawyer at the California Innocence Project. Her body was discovered about a mile away from Mr Roberts’ truck, which she had often borrowed. Read more