Man cleared of murder after spending 32 years behind bars with ‘faulty evidence’

A man has been cleared of first-degree murder after spending 32 long years behind bars.

Gilbert Poole Jr was exonerated on Wednesday after spending more than three decades in prison for being wrongly convicted of a fatal stabbing in Detroit.

Authorities agreed he was wrongly convicted based on faulty evidence, including a bite mark on the victim.

For years, Mr Poole had challenged his murder charge with expertise from the Innocence Project at WMU-Cooley Law School.

An Oakland County judge dismissed the conviction at the request of the Michigan attorney general's office.

A few hours later he was released from jail in Jackson.

“I spent decades learning, reading, studying law, but none of that was working for me,” Poole, 56, said in court.

“It wasn’t until I surrendered to a higher power and God stepped in and sent me a band of angels to look past the rules and regulations and looked to see who was standing in the furnace.

"I was standing in the furnace. I didn’t belong here."

Mr Poole was convicted in the fatal stabbing of Robert Mejia, whose body was discovered in a Pontiac field.

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His girlfriend told police he confessed to her he met Mejia in a bar and later killing him during a violent robbery attempt.

A dentist linked him to a bite mark on the victim.

But he denied any role in the slaying and in 2015, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered DNA testing of biological material gathered by police in 1998.

There was evidence of type A blood at the scene, which didn't match Mr Poole's or Mejia's blood.

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“Someone else fought with Robert Mejia in the woods that early morning and someone else killed him,” Assistant Attorney General Robyn Frankel told the judge.

Dana Nessel, Attorney General, said the prosecutor's office, which handled the case back in 1988-89, had no objection to the conviction being overturned.

Bite mark evidence “has been widely debunked. It's not reliable anymore,” Nessel said.

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“Then you have here not just that but the advent of very reliable types of testing such as DNA."

His lawyer, Marla Mitchell-Chicon, said they are "thrilled" the truth is finally out.

Mr Poole will be eligible for a variety of post-prison services, including housing assistance.

Nessel didn't address whether he would qualify for $1.6 million (£1.13m) under Michigan's wrongful conviction compensation programme.

The law grants $50,000 (£35,000) for each year spent in prison if someone is exonerated, typically because of new evidence.

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