Ray Hinton, 58, was released this morning from the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham, Alabama. Ray, was convicted of the 1985 murders of two Birmingham fast-food restaurant managers. Crime scene bullets were the only evidence that linked Hinton to the crime. Prosecutors said this week that modern forensic methods did not show the fatal bullets came from a revolver in Hinton’s home, or even from the same gun.
Ray Hinton’s statement:
Good morning. The sun do shine. Thirty years ago, the prosecution seemed deemed to take my life from me. They just didn’t take me from my family and friends. They had every intention of executing me for something I didn’t do.
But for all of you that’s snapping the cameras, I want you to know there is a God. He sits high but He looks low. He will destroy but yet He will defend and He defends me. And I just want to thank Him.
I’m not ashamed to let you know that He sent me not just a lawyer, but the best lawyers. And I couldn’t have made it without them.
And I want to say to the victims’ family, I will continue to pray for you as I have for 30 years. A miscarriage of justice, not only to me, but the victims’ family.
For all of us that say we believe in justice, this is the case to start showing. Because I shouldn’t sit on death row for 30 years.
All they had to do was test the gun. But when you think you high and mighty and you above the law, you don’t have to answer to nobody.
But I’ve got news for you. Everybody that played a part in sending me to death row, you will answer to God.
After nearly 30 years on Alabama’s death row, Hinton this morning walked out of prison a free man and into the arms of his sisters and friends.
He was freed when prosecutors dismissed the charges for his re-trial in the 1985 deaths of two fast-food manager after new testing on Hinton’s gun couldn’t prove the crime scene bullets were fired from the weapons.
“The sun does shine,” Hinton said as he was released.
“I want you to know there is a God. He sits high but he looks low. He will destroy but yet he will defend and he defended me,” Hinton said.
He said he wanted to say to the victims families that it was a “miscarriage ” of justice for them too.
“I shouldn’t have sat on death row 30 years,” Hinton said. “All they had to do was test the gun. But when you think you are high and mighty and you’re above the law you don’t have to answer to nobody, but I’ve got news for you. Everybody who played a part in sending me to death row you will answer to God.”
Hinton walked out of the Jefferson County Jail, where he was awaiting his re-trial. He was with his attorney Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery.
“Mr. Hinton has spent 30 years locked in an 5-by-8 cell and with the state of Alabama trying to kill him every day,” Stevenson said.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Stevenson said of Hinton’s release.
EJI has been asking for more than a decade for prosecutors and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office to have the gun re-tested because Hinton’s original attorney did not hire a qualified gun expert.
“It should have happened many many years ago… His case, in my judgment, is a case study in what’s wrong with our system. He was convicted because he is poor. We have a system that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent,” Stevenson said.
“And his case proves it. We have a system that is compromised by racial bias and his case proves it. We have a system that doesn’t do the right thing when the right thing is apparent. The prosecutors should have done these tests years ago and they didn’t,” Stevenson said.
Hinton was convicted and sentenced to death for the Feb. 25, 1985 shooting death of John Davidson, an assistant manager at a Southside Mrs. Winner’s, who was forced into the restaurant’s cooler and shot twice in the head.
Davidson’s son, Jason Davidson, stated in an email this morning to AL.com that he doesn’t see this as an exoneration of Hinton.
“This is a difficult time for my family and at this time the only thing I have to say is God will have the ultimate decision on if he is guilty or not,” Davidson wrote.
The evidence doesn’t show that he could have or couldn’t have committed the murders, but it “wasn’t proven that he is innocence. So I see (it) as a murderer has been set free today.”
He also was convicted in the July 2, 1985 death of 25-year-old Thomas Vason, an assistant manager at a Captain D’s in Woodlawn, who was forced into a cooler and shot twice in the head.
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