Ronnie Long, 65, who was unjustly incarcerated for 44 years, got a call from his lawyer Jamie Lau that Gov. Roy Cooper had pardoned him.
The governor also pardoned Teddy Lamont Isbell Sr., Damian Miguel Mills, Kenneth Manzi Kagonyera, and Larry Jerome Williams Jr., all of whom were imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. These were the first pardons that Cooper had issued since taking office in 2017.
In 1976, Long was convicted of rape by an all-white jury. Part of the appeal for his case includes that none of the fingerprints nor hair samples at the scene matched Long, who was accused of raping a prominent white woman.
Long is expected to receive $750,000 for the 44 years of life he lost behind bars. Now all Long wants to do is use the money to buy a small house of his own—and a headstone for his mother, who died just weeks before he was released from prison.
“We must continue to work to reform our justice system and acknowledge when people have been wrongly convicted. I have carefully reviewed the facts in each of these cases and, while I cannot give these men back the time they served, I am granting them Pardons of Innocence in the hope that they might be better able to move forward in their lives,” said Gov. Cooper Thursday.
“This means a burden’s been lifted off my back; a load off my family name. I wanted to rectify and clear my family name,” said Long. I’m glad the governor came to the realization and recognized it was the proper thing to do,” he said.
“I’m overjoyed,” said Long. “It relieves the tension as far as my survival.”