Man Wrongly Convicted Of Murder Released From Jail
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina man says he’s excited about being released after spending 20 years behind bars for a homicide he didn’t commit.
A judge last week vacated Larry Lamb’s 1993 murder conviction, and prosecutors dismissed the charges Tuesday, said one of Lamb’s attorneys, Christine Mumma of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence.
“I feel real, real good,” the 63-year-old Lamb told The Associated Press after he was released from the Wake Correctional Center in Raleigh. “It feels good to stand on the outside and knowing that I’m on the way home. It’s a blessing.”
He said he planned to eat a “good meal” with his family and friends Tuesday night. But after that, he’s going to take it slow.
“I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what I’m going to do right now. I guess I just have to take it day by day and see how God unfold things for me,” Lamb said. “I just want to be an example for people…to help anyone that I can.”
Prosecutors say Leamon Grady’s body was found in his Duplin County home on Feb. 28, 1987. The bootlegger had been shot once in the chest.
No gun was ever found, and there was no physical evidence linking Lamb or his co-defendants, Levon “Bo” Jones and Ernest Matthews, to the crime.
The case hinged on the testimony of Lovely Lorden, who claimed she had been with Lamb and the two defendants when they killed Grady.
Lamb, Jones, and Matthews all maintained their innocence for over 20 years.
After Lamb was convicted of first-degree murder, common law robbery, and felonious conspiracy, he addressed the court.
“I will take whatever time you give me and I will go with it with pride, but to let you know you haven’t solved this case by locking me up,” he told the judge before he was sentenced to life in prison.
Lamb’s attorneys have been fighting to get his conviction overturned for years.
An evidentiary hearing to release Lamb was held in May, and Judge W. Douglas Parsons Parson issued a ruling Thursday.
In his order, Parsons reached “the definitive conclusion” that Lorden’s testimony at Lamb’s 1993 trial “was false and that there is more than a reasonable possibility that, had the false testimony not been admitted a different result would have been reached.”
He found that the evidence showed she had “both personal and financial motives to fabricate evidence” against the men. He said that “fundamental fairness and due process dictate that Lorden’s testimony and credibility cannot sustain Lamb’s convictions.”
Jones spent 13 years on death row for Grady’s killing before he was released in May 2008. Duplin County prosecutors decided to drop the charges against him after a key witness admitted she lied on the stand.
Lorden, Jones’ former girlfriend, said a detective had coached her before Jones’ trial on what to say about Jones and Lamb.
After watching what happened to Jones and Lamb, Matthews pleaded guilty and spent seven years in prison before he was released, Mumma said.
The father of three grown sons, Lamb said that during his incarceration he didn’t lose hope that his conviction would be overturned.
“It was my faith — and the people on the outside — that God allowed in my life and inspired me. I have a lot of people out there who prayed for me, who encouraged me. It inspired me and gave me the drive to continue on,” he said.
This weekend, one of his sons, Anthony, will travel from Massachusetts to North Carolina to visit his father. Lamb also will spend time over the next few weeks with his other children and family members.
Most of all, he said he will savor the little things.
“I guess I’m going to have to reprogram myself. I don’t have to go to bed at a certain time. I can go to the refrigerator and eat like I want to. There’s a lot of things I have to get used to, reunited with. Anytime at night, I can walk out on the porch and sit on the porch and see the stars. You never know what you’re going to miss until you end up in a place like that.”
He also said he doesn’t hold any grudges against the people who put him in jail.
“I’ve forgiven them. I prayed for them for many years,” he said. “I have no animosity toward them. They know what they did. They know it was wrong.”
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