Ronnie Long, the Concord, NC, man who has been fighting for his freedom for over four decades, walked out of prison a free man on August 27, 2020.
Long was a 20-year-old living in Concord in 1976, when he was convicted of burglary and rape—which he did not commit—of a prominent North Carolina widow and sentenced to two concurrent life sentences.
More than 40 fingerprints collected from the crime scene, never shared with the defense, didn’t match Long’s. The procedures used to identify Long were highly unorthodox and involved nearly every factor that researchers have found contribute to misidentifications, including cross-racial identification.
Three of the judges with the federal appeals court said they believed Long is innocent and had his rights violated. “Liberty means something you don’t just take away. A person’s freedom means something,” said Federal Appeals Court Judge James Wynn. Wynn was one of the 15 judges of the fourth circuit federal appeals court bench who heard arguments about whether to overturn Ronnie Long’s conviction.
“I’m speechless; it don’t get no better than this!” exclaimed Long about finally receiving some justice after so many years.