RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper granted Pardons of Innocence to Ronnie Long and four other men convicted of crimes they did not commit, according to a release from the governor’s office on Thursday.
In addition to Long, Cooper pardoned Teddy Lamont Isbell Sr., Damian Miguel Mills, Kenneth Manzi Kagonyera, and Larry Jerome Williams Jr.
“We must continue to work to reform our justice system and acknowledge when people have been wrongly convicted. I have carefully reviewed the facts in each of these cases and, while I cannot give these men back the time they served, I am granting them Pardons of Innocence in the hope that they might be better able to move forward in their lives,” said Cooper.
In 1976, Long was convicted of rape by an all-white jury. Part of the appeal for his case includes that none of the fingerprints nor hair samples at the scene matched Long.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August that Long’s Constitutional rights were violated.
The release stated that, “The pardon applications were thoroughly reviewed by the Office of Executive Clemency, the Office of the General Counsel and the Governor.”
The pardons make all five men eligible to file claims under a state law that allows compensation to those who are wrongly convicted of felonies.
In North Carolina, a person who gets a pardon of innocence is eligible for $50,000 for each year they were in prison, with a maximum of $750,000 total from the state.