After spending over 41 years in prison Ledura Watkins has finally been released.
In a report from FOX2, Watkins, now 61, was released from Wayne County Jail on Thursday after his conviction was overturned for a murder he never committed. The conviction stems from an incident back in 1975 in which Watkins was charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Yvette Ingram during a home robbery.
Watkins was tied to the scene by police-lab analysts based on a single hair that an FBI expert witness testified was microscopically similar and could have come from Watkins, resulting in the then-20-year-old to be sentenced to life in prison.
Decades later, the Innocence Project at the Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School took up Watkins’ case and tested the single hair again, with the evidence not meeting current FBI standards for hair comparison.
“In 1975 there was no reliable, credible evidence against Mr. Watkins. (The one hair) could’ve been yours,” Mitchell-Cichon, director of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project, said.
Watkins is the longest-serving exoneree in Michigan’s history. Upon being released, Watkins said that he always expected to be vindicated but did not think it would take over 41 years.
Under a new law enacted in the state of Michigan, Watkins could be eligible for up to $50,000 per year for every year he spent in prison, which he could receive up to $2 million.