MIAMI – Locked up 35 years for child rape and kidnapping, James Bain was finally set free by a Florida judge after a DNA test proved he was innocent of the crimes.
"Mr Bain, I'm now signing the order... you're a free man. Congratulations," the judge told the 54-year-old as his family and friends in the courtroom broke out in applause.
Outside the courtroom, Bain told reporters he held no grudge.
"No, I'm not angry, because I've got God... I'm going home with my family... and I will stay in touch with my lawyers," he said.
Bain's ordeal with the law began when in 1974, at the age of 19, he was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and raping a nine-year-old boy.
On Thursday he wore a T-shirt emblazoned "Not Guilty," echoing his constant plea in jail since he was wrongly incarcerated.
Florida state began admitting DNA evidence to reopen criminal cases in 2001, but Bain was repeatedly turned down for the test until an appeals court finally recognized his right to a review.
© AFP 2013