Franklin Frye has spent 43 years in a mental hospital after being found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1970.
His crime? Stealing a $20 necklace.
Frye was locked up in St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington D.C. in 1971.
The Washington Times reports that court records show a public defender tried to get Frye released in 2007, but the judge on the case died.
Only recently was Frye's case finally transferred to a living judge.
“Mr. Frye has been waiting over five years to have this motion heard by the court,” Silvana Naguib, his new lawyer, stated in court papers on Jan. 8.
“Mr. Frye was accused of stealing a necklace that was valued at approximately twenty dollars,” stated Naguib. “He has been at St. Elizabeths Hospital almost continuously since.”
“In the early years of Mr. Frye’s hospitalization, Mr. Frye would sometimes get in fights with other patients, often over money, food, clothing and the other hotly desired commodities of institutional life,” added Naguib.
According to the Daily Mail, Naguib claims that Frye has regained his sanity, is not a danger in his old age and should be released.
Even though Frye's past numerous lawyers have failed to secure his release or even get a court hearing, officials at St. Elizabeths Hospital could have initiated his release, but did not.
Phyllis Jones, chief of staff for the Washington D.C. Department of Mental Health, refused to comment on Frye's case.
Jones cited "patient privacy," which likely means little to the 69-year-old Frye.
Court officials and the U.S. attorney’s office also refused to comment.