A panel of judges exonerated and released Joseph Sledge on Friday. Sledge, 70, served 36 years in prison for a double-murder which DNA evidence proves he did not commit.
Since his arrest, Sledge has denied involvement in the 1976 murders of Josephine and Ailene Davis. Police linked Sledge to the crime because he escaped from a nearby prison on the day of the murder after a fellow inmate threatened his life.
The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission began examining Sledge’s case in December after a ten-year investigation by the Center on Actual Innocence revealed that DNA testing of hairs on one of the victim’s bodies could prove his innocence.
Herman Baker, one of the two jailhouse informants that testified during Sledge’s trial, went before the Innocence Inquiry Commission in December, telling members police offered him early release from prison and a monetary reward if he said Sledge confessed to him. The other informant is deceased but was also given a deal in his own criminal case.
Sledge is the longest-serving wrongfully convicted person in North Carolina history.
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