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Inmate Freed After Six Years On Death Row

March 2, 1993

BAY MINETTE, Ala. (AP) _ An inmate who spent the last six years on death row was freed today as prosecutors told a court he was wrongly convicted for a 1986 murder.

Walter McMillian walked out of court into the arms of relatives after Baldwin County Circuit Court Judge Pam Baschab granted a defense motion to drop all charges. Prosecutors told the judge that three witnesses lied at McMillian’s trial.

″I guess they’ll get what’s coming to them down the road,″ McMillian said. ″I’m innocent. God knows, I’m innocent.″

Monroe County District Attorney Tommy Chapman said he did not handle the 1988 trial that resulted in McMillian’s capital murder conviction and death sentence. Chapman also said the statute of limitations on possible perjury charges against the witnesses has expired.

Minnie Bell McMillian, the freed inmate’s wife, said nothing could repay her for the six years.

″Six years is a long time,″ Mrs. McMillian said, holding the shoulders of her 7-year-old granddaughter, Pamela McMillian.

On the courthouse steps, more than two dozen friends and relatives waved their arms and shouted ″Praise the Lord 3/8″

McMillian’s lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, had filed a motion Monday seeking McMillian’s release. McMillian was to return to prison to gather his things and prepare for his return home.

Last week, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the capital murder conviction for McMillian, 52. The court said the state had surpressed evidence that could have demonstrated his innocence or damaged the testimony of a key witness.

Ronda Morrison, 18, was shot three times in the head and robbed while working at a dry cleaners in her hometown Nov. 1, 1986. The key witness against McMillian at his 1988 trial was Ralph Bernard Myers, who later recanted his story that he saw McMillian at the murder scene.

McMillian, who was sent to death row after his conviction, said he was at home when the teen-ager was slain. His family backed up his claim.

Myers is serving a 30-year sentence for the robbery. He avoided the death penalty by testifying against McMillian. Two other men split $7,000 in reward money for identifying McMillian as the killer.

Chapman said new evidence surfaced in connection with the murder case, which was featured on the CBS news show ″60 Minutes.″