After spending more than 40 years in prison for a murder he says he was framed for, former Black Panther leader Marshall “Eddie” Conway was released Tuesday.
Conway, who is now 67, was convicted of killing Baltimore Police Officer Donald Sager, 35, during an ambush in 1970. Throughout his lengthy sentence, Conway insisted upon his innocence, reiterating that he was framed, and denied any participation the attack.
While Conway's conviction was not tossed out, in an agreement with prosecutors in Baltimore Circuit Court earlier on Tuesday he was re-sentenced to time served, the Baltimore Sun reported, and will be on supervised probation for the next five years.
The decision came after Maryland's highest court ruled that in cases tried before 1980, jurors were given inadequate instructions — prompting the release of over a dozen people last summer,
The NAACP, which sent a member of their team to witness the release, expressed their elation at Conway’s pardoning.
“We’re glad that he’s being released and that he’s finally come out of the cell, but we also want the right person to be locked up,” Tessa Aston-Hill, President of the NAACP Baltimore Branch, told NBC News on Tuesday evening.
Aston-Hill said she was happy that Conway will be able to see his family again, although she lamented that the former Black Panther leader’s mother has passed while he was behind bars.
“There have been other African-American men who have been falsely convicted, and we want fair trials for everybody.”
But with advanced technologies like DNA testing, Aston-Hill is hopeful that less people will be falsely convicted.
“I have the utmost respect for the Baltimore police department,” she said. “I don’t want any of them to fall victim to murder. They’re also someone’s husbands, sons and fathers. We just want justice for anyone who is a victim.”
Meanwhile, Gene Ryan, vice president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police, told the Sun that the release was "a very difficult thing to learn, after all these years, that he's not going to fulfill the sentence he was given, which was life."
Prosecutors did not return calls for comment Tuesday evening, but