John Dwayne Bunn cried openly in court on Thursday after a New York judge cleared him of the deadly shooting of prison guard Rolando Neischer in 1991.
Bunn was 14 years of age when he was captured and attempted and served 17 years in jail before being discharged on parole in 2009.
Even after his release from prison, Bunn maintained his innocence and continued the fight to clear his name.
In 2016 state Supreme Court Justice ShawnDya L. Simpson threw out the conviction and ordered a new trial for Bunn, citing “malfeasance” by a former detective who worked on the case. Simpson said Louis Scarcella, who has been implicated in the wrongful arrest of a number of other people, had undermined crucial evidence in the case.
A second defendant, Rosean S. Hargrave, was released from prison in 2015 by the same judge who cited deficient police work by Scarcella and his then-partner, Detective Stephen W. Chmil.
The men were convicted on the testimony of a sole eyewitness, a fellow correctional officer who had been sitting in a parked car with the murder victim.
Earlier this week prosecutors announced they were dropping charges against Bunn due to a lack of evidence.