It’s been almost 43 years and now Charles Ray Finch will be a free man.

Finch was serving time for a Wilson County murder, but the courts say he didn’t get a fair trial and should be released.

At 81 years old, Finch could be released as soon as Thursday and as late as Friday. His family was jubilant as they came outside the federal courthouse in downtown Raleigh on Thursday morning.

Ray Finch was convicted of murder by one black and 11 white jurors in 1976 after the shooting death of gas station owner Richard Holloman.

The Duke Law Innocence Project took up the case 15 years ago and uncovered enough evidence that the federal appeals court said no reasonable juror would have convicted Finch.

It was up to one more federal judge to order his release and that is what happened around 9 a.m. Thursday. The evidence included the way the case was handled by investigators at the time.

The Wilson County district attorney has 30 days to decide whether to retry the case. Finch’s attorneys don’t think it will be.

In the meantime, Finch will leave Greene Correctional Institution likely within the next 24 hours.