FORDYCE, Ark.– After 26 years in an Arkansas prison maintaining his innocence, this week a federal judge overturned a man’s robbery and murder convictions.
John Brown is 1 of 4 people serving a life sentence in connection to the brutal rape, robbery, and murder of an elderly Fordyce woman nearly 3 decades ago.
United State District Judge Billy Roy Wilson Tuesday order and ruling are 26 pages.
Down the road from where the train rolls through the Dallas County town of Fordyce, a house looked loved on Thursday.
But locals like Mose Allen know it’s horrific history.
Mose Allen said, “Just had got married me my wife and kids live up the street up there around the block from where it took place.”
He recalled the September 1988 morning he learned of the murder at that home.
“It shook the town really,” he said.
A U.S. judge ordered Tuesday 1 of the 4 people serving life in prison in connection to the 1988 rape, robbery and murder of an elderly woman be freed or face a new trial.
Allen said, “I’m glad for him he deserves to be out because John wasn’t the type of person to do nothing like that.”
John Brown maintained his innocence the last 3 decades according to his attorney with the Midwest Innocence Project.
Tricia Bushnell said, “I mean we feel really, really, really good.”
Bushnell represents Brown. She said this is a big first step for her client who’s served 26 years in prison for a crime he maintains he never committed.
“It’s an important decision and it’s a strong statement about what the state (and) what a defendant’s rights are (and) that evidence must be reliable,” Bushnell said.
The federal judge called the case “fairly cut and dry” citing constitutional violations and new evidence including a co-defendant’s confession in 2015.
Bushnell said, “Mr. (Reginald) Early confessed to doing this crime alone. He has provided very detailed facts about he did the crime.”
Allen said he thinks Brown should get out.
“They innocent like I said I was around them that night they had a party,” Allen said.
Not all the locals agreed.
A man who identified himself as a former sheriff Donny Ford told our reporter Price McKeon on the phone that he firmly believes Brown is guilty.
In the judge’s order, Judge Wilson wrote the state has until September 20th— one day short of the 30th anniversary of the murder- to decide if they’ll re-try Brown or he’ll be released.
The state could also appeal the ruling.