Louisiana's Longest-Serving Death Row Inmate Freed After 30 Years

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 12 2014 2:58 PM

Louisiana's Longest-Serving Death Row Inmate Freed After Three Decades

On Monday, Glenn Ford was the longest serving prisoner on Louisiana's death row. On Tuesday, the 64-year-old walked free after a judge—acting at the request of prosecutors—ordered his release after roughly three decades behind bars.

Ford, a black man, was convicted by an all-white jury in the 1983 robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman, a 56-year-old Shreveport watchmaker, who was found shot to death behind the counter of his jewelry shop. He was found guilty in 1984, and the following year was sent to death row where he was sentence to die by electrocution. Ford maintained his innocence over the years that followed, filing multiple appeals that largely went unheard by the courts. That changed in 2000, via Reuters:

Louisiana Supreme Court ordered an evidentiary hearing on Ford's claim that the prosecution suppressed favorable evidence related to Jake and Henry Robinson, two brothers initially implicated in the crime.
According to the Shreveport Times, court records show that an unidentified informant in 2013 told prosecutors that Jake Robinson admitted to shooting and killing Rozeman.
Last Thursday, prosecutors filed a motion to vacate Ford's conviction and sentence, saying that in late 2013 "credible evidence" came to their attention "supporting a finding that Ford was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman."
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According to the motion, "Ford might not even have been arrested or indicted" for the crime if the new information would have been known at the time. Ford, who has spent nearly half of his life on death row, had this to say up on his release: "My sons, when I left, was babies," he told reporters. "Now, they’re grown men with babies."

Kelly Tunney is a Slate intern in New York City.

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