(Photo: WAFB video screenshot)
A Louisiana man who spent close to 30 years on death row was allowed to walk free on Tuesday after new evidence surfaced supporting his innocence. Some have pointed out that 64-year-old Glenn Ford, who is black, was sentenced to death by an all-white jury.
"I was locked up almost 30 years for something I didn't do. It's resentment, not feeling bitter," Ford shared with CNN affiliate WAFB upon his release on Tuesday.
"We are very pleased to see Glenn Ford finally exonerated, and we are particularly grateful that the prosecution and the court moved ahead so decisively to set Mr. Ford free," said Gary Clements and Aaron Novod, attorneys for Ford from the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana.
Ford was convicted of murdering 56-year-old Shreveport watchmaker Isadore Rozeman in 1983, who was shot to death behind the counter of his jewelry shop. Ford was tried in court and sentenced to death in 1984, making him one of the longest-serving death row prisoners in the United States.
Although Ford maintained that he was innocent and filed multiple appeals, they were continuously denied until the Louisiana Supreme Court ordered an evidentiary hearing in 2000 over a claim that the prosecution suppressed evidence linking two brothers, Jake and Henry Robinson, with the murder. Later, court records showed that in 2013 an unidentified informant shared with prosecutors that Jake Robinson had confessed to killing Rozeman.
Last week, another motion revealed that "credible evidence" was presented in 2013 "supporting a finding that Ford was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman," and argued that if the prosecution was aware of this information initially, Ford might not even have been arrested over the incident.
Rozeman's family has said that the latest developments bring back painful memories, but his nephew, Dr. Phillip Rozeman, said that he was optimistic the new information will lead to another arrest.
"The only thing that we hope is that if there is someone else involved, that if there was someone else involved, that there will be justice for that person," Rozeman said.
Ford reflected on his release: "I can't go back and do anything I should have been doing when I was 35, 38, 40, stuff like that."
"My sons - when I left - was babies. Now they grown men with babies," he added. "My mind's going all kinds of directions, but it feels good."
Amnesty International USA senior campaigner Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris argued in a statement that Ford is "living proof" of just how flawed the U.S. justice system really is.
"We are moved that Mr. Ford, an African-American man convicted by an all-white jury, will be able to leave death row a survivor," McHarris said.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, also commented, stating: "This case painfully reveals the fallibility of the death penalty and the risks we take with every death sentence. Some states are trying to speed up executions instead of addressing the underlying problems that have led to such mistakes. When 144 people like Glenn Ford are wrongly slated for execution, the whole system should be suspect."