A freed US man that was Wrongfully Imprisoned For Decades

January 25, 2015 3:59 am

A man who spent more than half his life in a North Carolina prison for
two murders he didn’t commit walked out a free man Friday, holding his
belongings in two white plastic bags.

Joseph Sledge, who was wrongfully convicted in 1978, said he feels wonderful about his freedom. He is now 70-years old.

Sledge was exonerated by a three-judge panel who reviewed
post-conviction DNA evidence from the victims. The panel said that
evidence excluded Sledge as a suspect. A witness who testified that
Sledge had admitted to the murders recanted his testimony in 2013.Josephine Davis and her daughter Aileen Davis were discovered in
September 1976 inside their home in Elizabethtown, North Carolina. The
women had been beaten and stabbed multiple times; Aileen Davis had been
sexually assaulted.

The day before the women’s bodies were found, Sledge had escaped from
White Lake Prison Camp, approximately 4 miles from the victims’ home. He
had been serving a four-year sentence for larceny.

Sledge was picked up after he was spotted in Dillon, South Carolina,
driving a stolen car, arrested and brought back to North Carolina, where
he was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of
the Davises.

At trial, the state presented forensic evidence linking Sledge to the
crime. Two inmates also testified against Sledge, saying he had admitted
to the crimes behind bars. He was convicted and sentence to life in

During the more than three decades Sledge was in prison, he maintained
his innocence, filing numerous post-conviction motions on various
grounds. All were denied without hearing.

In 2003, however, his request for new DNA testing was granted; testing began five years later.

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission took on investigating
Sledge’s case. It in December found “sufficient evidence of factual
innocence to merit judicial review.”

Speaking to reporters outside the Columbus County jail, Sledge said,
“When you’re conscious of something you didn’t do, you can live with
yourself. It’s between you and your maker.”

The family of Josephine and Aileen Davis expressed their disapproval with the panel’s decision.

Catherine Brown, Josephine Davis’ granddaughter, reading from a prepared
statement, said, “We, the family, are heartbroken by this decision.”

Sledge, who was wrongly incarcerated for 37 years, addressed the Davis
family directly, saying, “I’m very, very sorry for your loss. I hope you
get closure in this matter.”

The commission, which began operating in 2007, is the first of its kind
in the country, and is separate from the appeals process, according to
the organization’s website. A person exonerated by the commission
process is declared innocent and cannot be retried for the same crime.

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