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Miami judge lifts the life sentence of Thomas Raynard James. He was wrongly convicted of murder in 1991 for mistaken identity.

On Wednesday, a Miami judge vacated the life sentence for a 55-year old Black man who was wrongfully convicted in 1991 due to mistaken identity. CBS Miami reports Thomas Raynard James has been released.

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Miami judge lifts the life sentence of Thomas Raynard James. He was wrongly convicted of murder in 1991 for mistaken identity.

"I feel good. James stated Wednesday that he felt good as he left Miami's courtroom along with his family and attorneys.

James was convicted of the 1990 murder of Francis McKinnon in 1991. This was largely due to the identification of an eyewitness, who claimed she saw him shoot down her stepfather in a robbery at his Coconut Grove apartment.

James, in his red prison uniform with shackles, stood beside his mother Doris Strong as Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade State Attorney, detailed a 90-page motion she filed to have the conviction vacated.

Strong was silently moved by Fernandez Rundle's words to her mother.

James was 23 years old when he was convicted. He was released Wednesday after all paperwork had been completed.

Fernandez Rundle stated that Justice Project members poured over 20,000 pages worth of documents, interviewed witnesses and resubmitted fingerprints. They also retested DNA samples.

She stated that the case had been through many appeals, post-conviction review, and reviews by a private investigator as well as the Innocence Project of Florida Inc.

Fernandez Rundle stated that "none were successful in finding Mr. Thomas Raynard James innocence until we got involved."

Prosecutors filed a 90-page motion for the dismissal of the conviction. They stated that it was "a chance coincidence" that Thomas Raynard James, the defendant, had the same name and anonymous tipters named him as a suspect. This led to his photograph being placed in a lineup and to a false identity.

James was eventually arrested and charged with the murder of his wife.

Dorothy Walton, an eyewitness, told jurors at the trial that she was certain that James, then 23, pulled off the trigger.

"I am positive of it. She told jurors that she would never forget his face in 1991.

Another eyewitness, who identified James in the photo lineup, testified that the person he saw that evening was not in courtroom.

Fernandez Rundle stated that Walton's testimony was crucial to the jury's decision. There was no physical evidence linking anyone to the murder. James was not even identified by fingerprints taken at the scene.

Fernandez Rundle stated that Walton expressed concerns about her testimony beginning last fall. Although she initially refused to meet with the prosecutors, she later made contact and stated that she believes she made an error in identifying James as her gunman.

Fernandez Rundle stated that there have been contradicting stories over the years about detectives mistaking James for another man sharing his name. She said that the man in question had been arrested and was currently in jail.

According to the motion, McKinnon was killed in Las Vegas in 2020 by the man who was suspected of his murder.

James' representative, Natlie Figgers, encouraged people to voice their concerns when they witness injustice.

"It took a village for this to happen. Figgers acknowledged that it wasn't an easy ride. "I would like to express my gratitude to all those who contributed to this outcome."

CBS Miami reported that James requested a polygraph in accordance with the motion to vacate conviction.

James was asked the following questions: Was Francis McKinnon actually shot in your room? 2. Francis McKinnon was your subject? 3. Did you participate in the robbery/murder Francis McKinnon?

The state was informed that James was truthful, and they passed all three questions.

Fernandez Rundle stated that she met with James' defense group before the court hearing. They were completely committed to his innocence.

They believed in his innocence forever. This is a day both of joy and sadness for Mr. James's family. Fernandez Rundle said that this was a long-awaited day for the James family.

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