CLEVELAND (AP) — A man who has spent 23 years in an Ohio prison for his girlfriend’s slaying but maintains his innocence could be released soon after the new county prosecutor in Cleveland asked a court to void his conviction.
Court records show Cuyahoga County prosecutors asked that King, 59, be freed while they further investigate.
Prosecutors said advances in DNA testing and understanding forensic evidence have called into question the theory of the crime that prosecutors presented at King’s 1995 trial.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said Tuesday that his office consulted with the medical examiner, who explained that the way DNA evidence was interpreted at the time of King’s trial is no longer valid.
“After learning of the current analysis of the evidence, I believe that it is my duty to vacate Evin King’s conviction,” O’Malley said.
Cleveland.com reports King learned about the development in a phone call from the Ohio Innocence Project, which represented him in multiple appeals.
“I knew this day would come one day, and I knew I would cry,” King said through tears in a video of the call. Speaking of his mother, King said “she’s looking down on me.”
His girlfriend, Crystal Hudson, was found strangled in her closet in 1994. Of the two types of DNA found at the scene, one did not match King and the other could not be tested due to old DNA technology.
Prosecutors argued Hudson was with another man before her death, but King killed her. A jury convicted King, and he was sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 15 years.
The Innocence Project took his case and did new testing in 2009. The tests found both types of DNA from the scene matched the same person, whose DNA did not match King’s.
Even with the new developments, prosecutors fought to keep King’s conviction, and a county judge refused to grant a new trial.
O’Malley, who took office in January, assigned a new assistant prosecutor to take King’s case. The Innocence Project praised his decision to void the conviction.
“In several past cases in Cuyahoga County, and today with Evin King’s case, the prosecutors in Cleveland put justice above winning,” the project’s co-founder said.
Court records show King could be released from custody this week.
Judge Brian Corrigan has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday.