WASHINGTON – A man who spent 28 years behind bars for a rape and murder he said he didn’t commit walked out of a federal prison in Arizona on Tuesday with $75 and a bus ticket to Ohio after DNA testing showed he was innocent.
The conviction of Donald Eugene Gates, 58, was based largely on the testimony of an FBI forensic analyst whose work later came under fire and a hair analysis technique that has been discredited.
“I feel beautiful,” Donald Eugene Gates, 58, told the Associated Press by telephone after leaving the U.S. penitentiary in Tucson, Ariz.
Just hours before, the same judge who had presided over Gates’ trial years ago in D.C. Superior Court ordered his release.
Prosecutors had agreed Gates should be released.
However, at their request, Senior Judge Fred B. Ugast delayed Gates’ formal exoneration until next week to give the government a chance to conduct one more round of DNA testing.
Gates said he prayed for his release and never doubted it would come.
“My faith in God is very strong,” he said.
The one-time construction worker said he had no immediate plans.
“It’s all coming at me so fast,” he said. “I gotta think on it.”