Teen Murders
Bob Child  /  AP
Miguel Roman is escorted past a battery of TV cameras as he leaves Superior Court in Hartford, Conn., a free man on Friday.
updated 12/19/2008 3:22:40 PM ET 2008-12-19T20:22:40

A man who served 20 years in prison for a killing in which another man has now been charged walked out of court free on Friday after a judge granted him a new trial.

Miguel Roman, 52, was released on a promise to appear in court again Feb. 5. He looked stunned as he was rushed through a crowd of reporters and cheering family members to a waiting SUV.

"It's a miracle," said Roman's uncle, Efrain Colon. "I knew that someday he'll be coming out."

Two weeks ago, authorities charged another man with the 1988 murder of 17-year-old Carmen Lopez, Roman's pregnant girlfriend at the time, and announced that new DNA tests eliminated Roman as a suspect. Pedro Miranda was also charged in the killings of two other Hartford teens in the 1980s, after the new DNA tests linked him to the crimes, police said.

Roman had been serving a 60-year sentence for killing Lopez.

An FBI investigator testified in Roman's trial that tests eliminated him as a suspect, but a jury convicted him on circumstantial evidence and witness testimony, according to the arrest warrant affidavit for Miranda.

New Haven attorney Rosemarie Paine brought Roman's case to the attention of the Connecticut Innocence Project.

DNA tests also determined that Roman was not the father of Lopez's unborn baby. That issue had been a motive in the case because Roman "expressed a degree of displeasure to that matter," prosecutor David Zagaja said.

But Zagaja said that fact alone did not warrant a new trial.

Family celebrates
Roman's daughter Ana, who was 8 when her father was convicted, said the entire family was planning a huge get-together to welcome her father.

"I have to go Christmas shopping again. I thought I was done," she said.

Benjamin Maldonado, Roman's brother-in-law who flew in from Florida, said, "I'm happy! I'm happy!"

Roman has been in state custody since June 10, 1988. Since September 2007, he was held at the maximum-security MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution.

Miranda, 51, who had dated one of Lopez's relatives, is a registered sex offender who had been living in New Britain. He is also accused in the killings of 16-year-old Rosa Valentin in 1986 and 13-year-old Mayra Cruz in 1987. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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