Texas inmate freed after 19 YEARS in prison when a witness finally admits to lying and a bloody palm print at the crime scene is linked to another person
- John Earl Nolley, 42, was freed Tuesday after spending 19 years in prison
- He was convicted of killing friend but freed when witness admitted to lying
- A bloody palm print at the crime scene was also linked to another person
- Nolley was sentenced to life in 1998 for the murder of Sharon McLane
- Despite release he still waits to be exonerated, which can take months
A Texas man who spent 19 years in prison for the killing of a friend has been freed after a witness said he lied and a bloody palm print at the crime scene was linked to another person.
John Earl Nolley, 42, walked out of the Fort Worth courtroom on a personal recognizance bond Tuesday while his innocence claims are being considered.
Nolley was sentenced to life in prison in 1998 after being convicted in the stabbing death of Sharon McLane in Bedford.
His conviction was based largely on testimony from a 'jailhouse snitch' who later said he was lying. New test results show the palm print does not belong to Nolley or the victim
Nolley was surrounded by family members and local exonerees when he was released from custody on Tuesday.
An agreement was reached between Nolley's legal team and the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office for his release on a personal recognizance bond because of issues with a key state witness, as well as the withholding of evidence, WFAA reported.
'This is a good example of exactly what we set out to do with our Conviction Integrity Unit,' Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson told the station.
Wilson confirmed that the case 'is not an exoneration' but 'an example of how both changes in forensic technology and flaws in the process' can lead to different conclusions over time.
She told WFAA that the Conviction Integrity Unit is working to 'prevent a reoccurrence of this issue' by establishing a new policy on the use of jailhouse informants.
Gary Medlin, Nolley's attorney, also told WFAA that the case has been prolonged enough and it's time Nolley is let go.
'I didn't even think it would be a conviction [at the time],' he told WFAA. 'If I'd been given all the material we would've won.'
More details regarding the alleged flaws during the first trial are expected to be released on Monday.
Months after McLane had been found stabbed to death, Nolley was arrested in 1997.
His case was based largely on the testimony of a jailhouse informant that prosecutors used during the trial.
John O’Brien, who had a long criminal record, claimed that Nolley confessed to him while they were both in jail .
But the alleged confession didn’t match the crime as O’Brien claimed the murder was committed in the course of a robbery, but there was no evidence that any of McLane’s property was stolen, according to the Innocence Project.
Nolley was released from prison but he will not be exonerated until a separate process is conducted by the courts to determine his actual innocence, which can take months or years.