updated 11/14/2006 11:33:14 AM ET 2006-11-14T16:33:14

A man who was freed from death row in 2003 after being cleared by DNA evidence was sentenced to 20 years in prison for choking his wife.

Rudolph Holton was sentenced Monday, getting a stiff term because of his 11 previous felony convictions, including an earlier attack on his wife, Sandra.

He was convicted last month of second-degree attempted murder and domestic battery. Prosecutors said Holton, 53, choked Sandra during an argument in June.

Holton was released from death row in 2003 after two witnesses admitted they lied at the 1986 trial and DNA evidence proved that a hair found on the body of the victim, 17-year-old Katrina Graddy, was her own, not Holton’s as prosecutors claimed.

When he left prison in January 2003, Holton had wiped away tears under his sunglasses and said: “I’m on top of the world.” He married Sandra seven months later, but he was unable to stay out of trouble.

In August of that year, prosecutors charged him with assaulting the son of his wife’s ex-husband. Four months later, he was arrested for punching his wife and striking her several times with a golf club. She ended up in the hospital and he went to prison for 14 months.

On Monday, he told state Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett that his soured relationship with Sandra was to blame for his problems.

“I married the wrong lady,” he said.

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