A New Jersey man has been freed from prison after spending 19 years incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. The judge threw out the man’s conviction after new revelations in DNA testing, a technology that was not available during his 1995 murder trial, demonstrated that he was not guilty.
The man, Gerard Richardson, had been convicted in the murder of Monica Reyes, a 19-year-old woman who was found in a ditch in north-central New Jersey’s Bernards Township. Evidence used in the initial case was a bite mark on Reyes’ back, which was linked by prosecuting attorneys to Richardson. The new DNA evidence proved that Richardson’s DNA was not present in the bite mark.
The new testing was brought about by the Innocent Project, which has reopened cases that lacked DNA testing that could have proved people were wrongly imprisoned. Richardson is the organization’s latest success story.
According to sources on the scene, Richardson appeared as if he still could barely comprehend that he was actually leaving jail when he was released on a $5,000 bail.
“I’m starting to believe it now, the cold air’s hitting me,” Richardson said as he left the courthouse, according to The Daily Mail, “I’m just happy to be home. It’s been a long road. This is one step closer to me rebuilding my life.”
Richardson did admit his drug dealing past but claimed that he was not involved in Reyes’ murder. “I wasn’t no angel, but I didn’t kill anybody,” Richardson said.