Wrongly Convicted Philly Man Leaves Prison After 25 Years

Anthony Wright was charged with the 1991 rape and murder of his 77-year-old neighbor. He was acquitted yesterday after a retrial.

Anthony Wright

Photo Credit: The Innocence Project

For the first time in almost 25 years, Anthony Wright walked free yesterday.

Wright, 44, was charged with the 1991 rape and murder of his then-neighbor, 77-year-old Louise Talley. After nine days of testimony and about an hour and a half of deliberation, a jury acquitted Wright during his retrial yesterday, the Inquirer reports. Wright was serving a life prison term without parole.

Wright’s first stop was Nomad Pizza, according to the newspaper, where he joined friends, relatives and his lawyers from the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization that aims to exonerate the wrongly convicted and expose flaws in the criminal justice system.

After the non-profit picked up Wright’ case, DNA evidence emerged that linked another man to the crime. Despite the new evidence and Wright’s vacated conviction, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office decided to retry him in 2014. Lawyers from the Innocence Project criticized the decision to do so.

“We are extremely relieved that this very long nightmare is finally over for Mr. Wright and his family,” Innocence Project co-director Peter Neufeld said in a statement. “DNA testing proved not only that Mr. Wright is absolutely innocent but also that law enforcement fabricated evidence against him. But it’s outrageous that he has been forced to endure a retrial to gain his freedom after DNA testing already proved his innocence.”

The District Attorney’s Office commented on the retrial yesterday.

“The District Attorney’s Office stands by its decision to retry Anthony Wright, based on the totality of the evidence,” D.A. spokesman Cameron Kline said in a statement, according to the Inquirer. “The verdict only shows that the jury did not find that his guilt was proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

An emotional Wright talked little of the case while at Nomad Pizza in Queen Village yesterday, focusing instead on loved ones who had aged during his sentence, the Inquirer reports.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.