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A man who spent 17 years behind bars for a 2001 armed robbery in New Orleans walked free from jail on Thursday, having been exonerated by new fingerprint evidence.
Royal Clark Jr, who turned 41 on Wednesday, said: 'I don't know what to say,' as he was greeted by a small army of family and friends outside of Jefferson Parish jail in Gretna, L.A.
Clark - Year - Birthday - Connection - Robbery
Clark was arrested and jailed in 2002 and convicted the following year, on his 25th birthday, in connection with the robbery of a fast food restaurant. He was sentenced to serve 49 years in prison for the crime.
However, the advocacy group Innocence Project New Orleans was eventually able to force Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office to reexamine the fingerprint evidence that led to his conviction using new technology, which ultimately proved his innocence.
Prints - State - Database - Suspect - Series
The prints were compared to those in a state database and were linked to another suspect who had been convicted in a series of later robberies.
'As district attorney, my obligation to seek justice does not end upon conviction,' District Attorney Paul Connick said in a statement.
Evidence - Individual - Office - Action - Injustice
'When the evidence reveals an individual was wrongfully convicted my office will take action to correct that injustice,' he added.
'It's the last birthday he will spend in prison,' a smiling Kia Hall Hayes, attorney for the advocacy group Innocence Project New Orleans, declared in court, after her organization secured Clark's freedom.
Assistant - District - Attorney - Terry - Boudreaux
Assistant District Attorney Terry Boudreaux wished Clark well and guards escorted the former prisoner - still shackled and wearing orange...
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