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Man Freed After Seven Years in Prison For Killing of Gay Lover

January 23, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ A man who spent seven years behind bars in the killing of his homosexual lover left prison after being acquitted in a second trial.

″Deep inside, I always knew I didn’t do this,″ said Ronald Woodhull, 40. ″The first thing I did when I got out was take a breath of fresh air. Then I had a beer and burger. It was the best meal I’d had in years.″

The New York man was sentenced in January 1982 to 25 years to life in the 1979 slaying of Donald Spencer, 25, who was once his gay lover.

He was acquitted Tuesday by Justice Alain Blurgeois in a new trial ordered by an appellate court in November 1984.

The appeals court said prosecutors in the first trial had made inflammatory statements to the jury while using inadmissable evidence.

The case against Woodhull was based on a videotaped statement made after his arrest. His lawyers said their client was suffering from schizophrenia when he confessed.

Jerry Werlin, Woodhull’s attorney, said his client confessed after being harassed by police and that his client’s confession contained inconsistencies.

For example, Woodhull said he stabbed Spencer but the victim was strangled. Woodhull also mentioned a fight he had with the victim, but it occurred two years earlier.

Werlin said Spencer’s diaries showed he had not seen Woodhull since 1977.

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