A man, who served has 19 years for a murder in 1991, was released from jail on Thursday and will have a new trial starting next month.
Alfred Swinton was granted a new trial by Julia D. Dewey at Hartford Superior Court on Thursday morning.
Following Thursday's ruling, 68-year-old Swinton will be on house arrest. The judge said he can only leave the house to go to church, court and medical appointments. Swinton will also be under electronic monitoring.
Innocence Project lawyers argued that "DNA testing of critical evidence excludes him as the assailant. Additionally, the bite mark analyst who identified the suspect through a mark on the victim's skin acknowledges that bite mark evidence has been discredited and no longer believes there is a valid scientific basis for his testimony and no longer believes the man is responsible for the mark."
Swinton's defense said new DNA evidence shows he had nothing to do with the 1991 murder of Carla Terry. In 2001, he was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison based on testimony that bite marks found on the victim were his. His lawyers said that testimony has been debunked.
"The DNA tests show that Mr. Swinton did not inflict those bite marks," said Swinton's Attorney Maura Grinalds.
Also, a bra that was believed to belong to Terry was discovered in a basement at Swinton's apartment. It was used as evidence in the first trial, but the defense says they can now prove that didn't belong to Terry and had none of her DNA or Swinton's.
"The only link that existed is severed. The state has no physical, forensic or DNA evidence to incriminate Mr. Swinton," Grinalds said.
"The system failed the victim's family and our family. I'm just hoping the system can rectify it for both families," said Cheryl White Mink, Swinton's niece.
Terry's family is coming to terms with the possibility that the killer could still be out there.
"It hurts them, it hurts my family," said the victim's niece, Shaquia Terry. "They know he did it, I don't know how they can let him go."
Thursday’s decision doesn't sit well with the Terry family, but for Swinton, a chance to prove his innocence is something he's worked for since he was locked up.
"Right now, freedom, and I thank God for the answer to my prayer. Every last one," Swinton said.
"They remember Alfred Swinton as working harder than any other inmate, in the library, working on his case to prove his innocence," said Swinton's Attorney Ken Rosenthal.
Swinton was released on a promise to appear at Hartford Superior Court on July 20.
His lawyers say the murder charge remains, but basically they're starting from square one and now with all this forensic evidence on their side, they're extremely confident Swinton will be found not guilty.
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