HARTFORD, Conn. (NBC News) – A mentally impaired Connecticut man serving a life sentence for murder was released on bail Friday after the court ordered a new trial. The man has spent the past 26 years in prison.
Cheers greeted Richard LaPointe as he left Hartford Superior Court, his hands raised high with his lawyers by his side. Printed on his shirt, the words “I didn’t do it.”
For the first time in 26 years, the 69 year old man walked out free after the judge released him on bail.
Last month the State Supreme Court ruled he did not have a fair trial, and Friday, LaPointe and his lawyers sat down to answer questions.
When asked how it felt to be free and finally breathing fresh air, LaPointe said, “Great. Thank you everybody that helped me get out of jail.”
Back in 1987, LaPointe’s grandmother in law was assaulted, murdered, and the home set on fire. Authorities focused their attention on the mentally impaired LaPointe, and said he confessed to the crime.
LaPointe said, “That wasn’t me. That wasn’t. I wouldn’t do nothing like that to nobody. I wouldn’t even kill my worst enemy.”
For more than 15 years, Centurion Ministries has worked to prove the conviction wrong, saying the confession did not match the evidence. Paul Casteleiro said, “He was coerced into confessing. Anyone who knows him knows you can get him to say a lot of different things.”
During the press conference, LaPointe began acquainting himself with technological advances, like a cell phone, and shared the thoughts he had behind bars. “I just kept thinking, I’m going home, I’m going home, I’m going home.”
What did he miss the most while you were incarcerated? “My family.”
Murder charges were refiled, but the prosecutor says the state hasn’t decided if it will proceed with a new trial.