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A man in Philadelphia has been cleared of murder after 34 years in prison - the evidence that exonerated him having been in the Philadelphia Police Department's and District Attorney's files all along.
Curtis Crosland, 60, was convicted of the 1984 murder of Il Man Heo, and was sentenced to life in prison.
He was exonerated after witnesses said they were coerced into making false accusations, and was released this week after serving more than 30 years of his sentence.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, it makes Crosland the 21st person exonerated with the support from District Attorney Larry Krasner's Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU).
It concluded that investigators had illegally concealed information about the witnesses, along with evidence pointing to another suspect.
Crosland was released from the State Correctional Institution Phoenix in Montgomery County on Thursday 24 June, arriving at his sister's home in Cobbs Creek to a crowd of friends and family.
Speaking to Philadelphia Inquirer reporters, he said: "I just came home after 34 years. I've been exonerated!"
In court filings, the CIU said Crosland's case not only involved apparent misconduct, it also argued that he had a compelling innocence claim.
CIU supervisor Patricia Cummings said: "To me, it's a case that has all the telltale signs of a wrongful conviction.
"You have a case that was cold.
"Then you have snitches involved wanting something in their case, and then the historical lack of understanding and appreciation of [disclosure requirements]."
Crosland continued: "It feels good. It's almost bittersweet because I left so many good men behind that are actually innocent."
Thanking God, he added: "Someone finally after all these years heard my cries.
Curtis Crosland fought for decades to clear his name. The evidence that finally exonerated him was in the Philadelphia Police Department's and District Attorney's files all along. He was released on June 24 after more than 30 years in prison. https://t.co/0fVGJtbkLD pic.twitter.com/Nt7Q83FvXb- The Philadelphia Inquirer (@PhillyInquirer) June 25, 2021
The family of victim Il Man Heo - a shop owner known in the community as Tony - also welcomed Crosland's release.
Tony had been shot during a gunpoint robbery at his H&B Grocery by a masked gunman - who knew to call him by his first name.
Tony's son Charles, 50, and daughter Song, 52, said their father was a revered, light-hearted, generous and gregarious character, who often carried more than $1,000 in 'I owe you' notes from those who couldn't afford to pay.
They said they were grateful to see Crosland's family reunited.
Charles said: "There was an injustice in this case, and the ripple effects caused untold damage through our family's lives, through the Crosland family's lives."
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