AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) _ Sam Turner, a fugitive for 46 years until the law caught up with him last week, has finally won his freedom officially.

As Turner, 75, lay in a hospital bed with pneumonia Tuesday, Jack Glazner, head of the Augusta office of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, presented him with a document saying he had been pardoned.

``He read it over carefully, pointed out some dates, and he seemed to be glad it was over,'' Glazner said. ``He asked several times what it meant.''

In 1951, Turner, serving five to eight years for voluntary manslaughter and burglary, walked away from a road work detail in Dodge County. A $25 reward failed to produce him. He eventually married and had six children, living openly under his own name.

He worked as a machinist and was a church deacon. A street in his subdivision in Lincolnton was named after him.

Turner was caught last week during a routine check of driver's license applications and renewals. He spent one night in prison before being freed.

Turner was hospitalized almost immediately.

``It's a compassionate move by the board,'' Parole Board Chairman Walter Ray said. ``Looking at his age and medical reports, we felt this would be the best way to handle it. What is there to be served by putting him in prison?''