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Wrongfully convicted Minnesota man walks free after almost 20 years in prison

Dec 12, 2023, 6:00 AM

Wrongfully convicted Minnesota man now free...

Marvin Haynes, 35, is hugged by a supporter as he walks out of the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Stillwater in Bayport after a judge set aside his murder conviction. (Mark Vancleave/AP)

(Mark Vancleave/AP)

Originally Published: 11 DEC 23 16:01 ET
Updated: 11 DEC 23 21:51 ET

(CNN) — After spending nearly 20 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction, a Minnesota man was set free from a Minneapolis prison on Monday, authorities announced.

Marvin Haynes, now 36, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2004 in the shooting of 55-year-old Randy Sherer at a Minneapolis flower shop. He was just 16 at the time. The case against him relied almost entirely on eyewitness evidence. One witness later said he never got a good look at the suspect, and another recanted his testimony.

In a review of the case brought by the Great North Innocence Project, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office agreed Haynes’ right to due process was violated.

His conviction was vacated following a November hearing during which his attorneys “presented evidence showing that the identification procedures used to convict Mr. Haynes were inconsistent with best practices and unnecessarily suggestive,” the Great North Innocence Project said in a news release.

“I want to thank the Great North Innocence Project, Julie Jonas, my family and friends, and everyone who supported me through this long journey,” Haynes said in the release.

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty called Haynes’ prosecution “a terrible injustice” in a Monday news release.

“There was no forensic evidence, such as fingerprints or DNA. There was no video connecting him to the crime. The murder weapon was never recovered,” said Moriarty.

“We inflicted harm on Mr. Haynes and his family, and also on Harry Sherer, the victim, his family, and the community,” she went on. “We cannot undo the trauma experienced by those impacted by this prosecution, but today we have taken a step toward righting this wrong.”

The county attorney also apologized to Haynes, saying, “To Marvin Haynes: You lost the opportunity to graduate from high school, attend prom, have relationships, attend weddings and funerals, and be with your family during holidays. For that, I am so deeply sorry.”

Correction: A previous version of this story gave the wrong age for Haynes. He is 36.

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Wrongfully convicted Minnesota man walks free after almost 20 years in prison