But now, he’s a free man.
A judge ordered Ford’s release from the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, where he had been held since March 1985.
He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to die by electrocution by an all-white jury that found him guilty in the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport watchmaker who was killed in his repair shop on Nov. 5, 1983, according to Reuters. It was a verdict Ford always disputed, saying he wasn’t even there. But, until recently, the courts wouldn’t listen.
Here’s the motion to vacate filed March 11 in which prosecutors acknowledge that had they known then what they know now, Ford would not have been charged.
The Atlantic details the series of events that led to Ford’s conviction, including the testimony of a woman named Marvella Brown who claimed Ford was with two of the other suspects — and in the possession of a firearm — on the day of the murder. She then testified she had lied during Ford’s trial.
The trial included questionable peremptory strikes by the prosecution that kept black jurors out of the box.
Ford was still convicted.
The past three decades have proven to be a long fight for Ford and his attorneys. It wasn’t until last year that things started to change — when prosecutors began filing motions in federal court indicating someone else had confessed to the murder.
The Shreveport Times reported that the court documents suggested that another man — against whom charges had been dropped — was the triggerman.
Ford’s attorneys recently said his initial trial was “profoundly compromised by inexperienced counsel and by the unconstitutional suppression of evidence, including information from an informant, a suppressed police report related to the time of the crime, and evidence of the murder weapon, which implicated the true perpetrator,” according to The Associated Press.
Last week, prosecutors filed a motion to exonerate Ford, stating that in late 2013 evidence was presented “supporting a finding that Ford was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman,” according to Reuters.
On Monday, State District Judge Ramona Emanuel moved to void Ford’s conviction and, on Tuesday, Ford walked free.
Upon his release, Ford told reporters he’s happy to finally have his life back.
“It feels good,” he said. “It feels real good.”
For more in this story see this column by James Varney in the New Orleans Times-Picayune