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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Man serves nearly 40 years; police now say he’s not guilty

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina man who served 39 years in prison for a homicide that he says he didn’t commit has been freed from prison.

The Herald of Rock Hill reported that 61-year-old James Robert McClurkin left Broad River Prison on Thursday as a parolee. Police and attorneys now say he didn’t kill 74-year-old Claude Killian of Chester in August 1973.

McClurkin and Ray Charles Degraffenreid were convicted of murder in Killian’s death in 1977. The evidence against them was the word of a co-defendant.

Last month, Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood told the South Carolina parole board that McClurkin was innocent. McClurkin was paroled Oct. 11 but not released until Thursday. He has still not been officially exonerated.

The newspaper reports that Degraffenreid is in a prison mental wing. McClurkin says Degraffenreid also should be released.

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