Louisiana man freed after 45 years: “I forgave, I forgave”

BATON ROUGE, LA. (WVLA) – A wrongfully convicted man in Louisiana was freed Wednesday after more than 45 years in prison.

Wilbert Jones exited the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison at noon Wednesday, with a heavy helping of gumbo and potato salad waiting at his family’s home.

Jones, now 65, was 19 in 1971 when police arrested him on suspicion of abducting and raping a nurse at the Baton Rouge General parking lot. He was convicted in 1974 and sentenced to life without parole at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center.

A judge overturned Jones’ case two weeks ago, ruling that authorities concealed “highly favorable” evidence that another man, someone taller and with a “much rougher” voice, according to the nurse’s description, had committed the rape.

The nurse died in 2008. Her husband does not oppose Jones’ release, court documents indicate.

Jones, in his first moments of freedom, harbored no resentment over those who prosecuted against him.

“I forgave, I forgive,” Jones said. “I don’t have anything bitter in my life. That kept me, strength, God and hope.”

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