In this frame grab from video provided by WAFB-TV 9, Glenn Ford, 64, talks to the media as he leaves a maximum security prison, Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Angola, La. / AP
SHREVEPORT, La. -- A man who spent nearly 30 years on Louisiana's death row was freed Tuesday after a court vacated his conviction in the murder of a Shreveport businessman.
Glenn Ford walked out of Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday. The time spent behind bars for the Nov. 5, 1983 murder of Isadore Rozeman gave Ford the distinction of being the longest serving death row inmate.
Asked as he walked away from the prison gates after his release, Ford told WAFB-TV, "It feels good; my mind is going in all kind of directions. It feels good."
Ford said he does harbor some resentment at being wrongly jailed: "Yeah, cause, I've been locked up almost 30 years for something I didn't do."
Gary Clements and Aaron Novod, attorneys with the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana, have been representing Ford.
"We are very pleased to see Glenn Ford finally exonerated, and we are particularly grateful that the prosecution and the court moved ahead so decisively to set Mr. Ford free," the said in a statement after Ford's departure from prison.
Undisclosed new evidence in the crime obtained last year set the wheels in motion for Ford's release. A court order vacating Ford's first-degree murder conviction and death sentence was filed Tuesday.
The attorneys say that new information corroborates what their client claimed all along: "That he was not present at nor involved in the crime for which he had been convicted and sentenced to death."
According to Ford's attorneys, his trial was "profoundly compromised by inexperienced counsel and by the unconstitutional suppression of evidence at his trial, including information from an informant, a suppressed police report related to the time of the crime and evidence of the murder weapon, which implicated the true perpetrator."
What's in Ford's future is unknown. Clements could not be immediately reached by phone or email for information on Ford's plans.
Ford, now 64, is a California native who moved to Shreveport to change his life.
Ford's release was anticipated by the Rozeman's family. Dr. Phillip Rozeman, a Shreveport physician who is Isadore Rozeman's nephew, was given a heads up by the district attorney's office.
"From a personal viewpoint for our family, this was a hard time and it was tragic that he was killed. It had a major impact, especially on my father, I think it had a negative impact on his health," Rozeman said in a telephone interview. "My uncle was a kind and gentle person. He never hurt anyone."
An investigation is continuing into "certain individuals who are not only responsible for the Rozeman homicide but several other unsolved homicides in our community, some of them very old and some of them not so old," First Assistant District Attorney Dale Cox said.
He expects within the next 30 days to bring one or more of those unsolved cases to a grand jury. Cox also plans to contact Ford's attorneys to see if he would be willing to cooperate in the ongoing investigation.
Movement in Ford's decades-old case began last year when Caddo Parish prosecutors began filing motions in federal court indicating someone other than Ford had confessed to being Rozeman's killer. The court documents indicate a confidential informant questioned in an unrelated homicide identified Jake Robinson, one of four men initially charged in Rozeman's murder, as the triggerman, not Ford.
Few other details were provided until Thursday, when the motion spurring Ford's release plainly stated that if the new evidence had been known when Ford went to trial the outcome would have been different. "Indeed, if the information had been within the knowledge of the state, Glenn Ford might not even have been arrested or indicted for this offense," the motion states.
Ford, who did occasional yard work for Rozeman, repeatedly denied any part in the homicide even though the investigation showed he was in the area of the shop at the time of the murder. The businessman was found shot to death behind the counter of his Stoner Avenue shop.
Ford was 34 was first arrested in November 1983 for possession of stolen items recovered from Rozeman's store. He was charged in February 1984 with murder, as were three other men, George Starks and brothers Henry Robinson and Jake Robinson.
Witnesses testified Ford was trying to sell a gun that was the same caliber of the Rozeman murder weapon. And Ford's name is on a pawn shop receipt for items similar to what were taken from Rozeman's shop. But Ford identified the Robinson brothers as suspects in the murder.
An all-white jury convicted Ford and sentenced him to die in the electric chair. Charges were dismissed against the three other men.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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