A 64-year-old man who spent 44 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit, regained his freedom on Thursday, August 27, 2020.
Ronnie Long, who is from North Carolina, was a 20-year-old Black man living in Concord when he was accused of raping a white woman, Sarah Judson Bost, at knifepoint in her home on the evening of the 25 April 1976.
The court handed an 80 year prison sentence to Long for the first-degree rape of Sarah Bost and first-degree burglary by an all-white jury in the 70s, Daily Mail reports.
Despite decades of appeals to overturn the conviction, and being in possession of DNA evidence throughout the years pointed to his innocence, he remained in jail.
The DNA evidence in question pointed to hair samples and clothing fibers not matching those of the accused.
According to media reports, the evidence was not shared with the defense at the time of the trial.
In 2015, it was revealed that 43 fingerprints taken from the scene ‘excluded’ the prisoner as the source of the prints.
A request for a new trial was still rejected by the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals the same year.
Long was put in a photo lineup as the only man wearing a leather jacket, which was allegedly what was worn on the night of the attack, according to court records.
At the time, detectives said they thought the suspected rapist might have been among defendants in court on other charges the same day.
His mother, who he lived with at the time, and the mother of his child said he was on a group phone call with them.
He was getting ready to attend a party in Charlotte at the time of the assault, they said.
The 4th Circuit opinion, led by Judge Stephanie D. Thacker, cited ‘a troubling and striking pattern of deliberate police suppression of material evidence.’