RALEIGH — A North Carolina man was released from prison after spending 20 years behind bars for a homicide he didn’t commit.
A judge last week vacated Larry Lamb’s 1993 murder conviction, and prosecutors dismissed the charges Tuesday, said one of Lamb’s attorneys, Christine Mumma of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence.
“He plans to go back home to Mount Olive,” she said as she stood outside the Wake Correctional Center in Raleigh with Lamb’s family and friends.
Prosecutors said Leamon Grady’s body was found in his Duplin County home on Feb. 28, 1987. The bootlegger had been shot once in the chest. No gun was ever found, and there was no physical evidence linking Lamb or his co-defendants, Levon “Bo” Jones and Ernest Matthews, to the crime.
The case hinged on the testimony of Lovely Lorden, who claimed she had been with Lamb and the two defendants when they killed Grady. Lamb, Jones, and Matthews all maintained their innocence for over 20 years.
After Lamb was convicted of first-degree murder, common law robbery, and felonious conspiracy, he addressed the court.
“I will take whatever time you give me and I will go with it with pride, but to let you know you haven’t solved this case by locking me up,” he told the judge before he was sentenced to life in prison.
Lamb’s attorneys have been fighting to get his conviction overturned for years.
An evidentiary hearing to release Lamb was held in May, and Parson issued a ruling Thursday.
In his order, Parsons reached “the definitive conclusion” that her testimony at Lamb’s 1993 trial “was false and that there is more than a reasonable possibility that, had the false testimony not been admitted a different result would have been reached.”
He found that the evidence showed she had “both personal and financial motives to fabricate evidence” against the men. He said that “fundamental fairness and due process dictate that Lorden’s testimony and credibility cannot sustain Lamb’s convictions.”
Jones spent 13 years on death row for Grady’s killing before he was released in May 2008. Duplin County prosecutors decided to drop the charges against him after a key witness admitted she lied on the stand.
Lorden, Jones’ former girlfriend, said a detective had coached her before Jones’ trial on what to say about Jones and Lamb.
After watching what happened to Jones and Lamb, Matthews pleaded guilty and spent seven years in prison before he was released, Mumma said.