A man wrongly convicted of murder was freed from prison after 37 years when it was discovered detectives allegedly offered a witness sex and drugs to fake their testimony.
Willie Stokes, 61, left a state prison near Philadelphia on Tuesday after federal court was informed last month that Franklin Lee, a key witness trial, had lied in court.
He had allegedly been given sex from his girlfriend and drugs at a police headquarters in 1983 in return for false testimony that would secure the conviction against Stokes, who was accused of killing someone during a dice game.
Lee was found guilty of perjury shortly after Stokes was sent to prison in 1984, but the wrongly convicted man was not informed until 2015.
Stokes' lawyer Michael Diamondstein said:“Today is a tremendous day. We’re all very thankful,”
“However, it’s also a sad day, because it reminds us of how lawless, unfair and unjust Philadelphia law enforcement was for so long.”
It was reported that Stokes only found out about his release on Tuesday around half an hour before he left, and said he was most looking forward to a hug from his mother and a corned beef hoagie upon release.
His mother was said to be too nervous to come to greet him after experiencing disappointments several times before.
Both of the detectives who gave Franklin Lee the alleged deal in 1983 have since died.
Lee, who was in custody on separate charges of rape and murder at the time of the deal, told a federal court in November that he had been "weak" when he accepted it.
He now works on an assembly line after serving his sentence for rape, murder and perjury two years ago, and apologised “for the problem I caused” in court in November, leading Stokes to break down in tears.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner will make a decision on whether to retry Stokes in a hearing on January 26.
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