Ronnie Long; a NC man free after spending 44 years behind bars in wrongful conviction

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Ronnie Long, who spent the last 44 years in prison on a wrongful conviction, is now free.

Long walked out of a facility Thursday afternoon in Stanly County to cheers from his family and supporters.

The Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic announced Wednesday it secured the release of Ronnie Long after he spent the last 44 years in prison.

Long’s lawyer, Jamie Lau, said in release that while it may take some time for the courts to complete the process of vacating his conviction, “Ronnie Long will be going home sometime very soon.”

But, the wait for Long’s release from Albemarle Correctional Institute after that announcement only took a day.

Lau and the Duke Wrongful Convictions Clinic have been fighting for Long’s release, especially given his risk for serious health complications should he contract COVID-19.

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.

Results of 43 fingerprints from the scene weren’t shared with his defense. It wasn’t until 2015 that his attorneys learned that none of the prints matched Long.

There was also a leather jacket the victim said she scratched heavily to the point her fingernails bent backwards. Long’s jacket showed no scratches. The rape kit was lost, too. All of these details were suppressed. Even his skin tone and hair color didn’t match the description.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that Long’s Constitutional rights violated, according to the court’s decision.

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