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New Haven Man Has Murder Conviction Vacated After 9 Years In Prison

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A Superior Court Judge in New Haven, Connecticut dismissed charges and freed a man who confessed to a murder he says he didn’t commit. That’s after the New Haven State’s Attorney said the confession may not have been accurate and asked the judge to set aside the conviction.

Family and friends outside the New Haven Superior Courthouse cheered and brought popcorn when Bobby Johnson walked out.

"It feels excellent to be out. It's crazy," Johnson said, "I'm still trying to grasp everything now. This is crazy. It's beautiful."

Johnson’s mother, Angela Johnson, was wearing a handmade shirt that said, “Justice for my son.”

"‘Justice for my son,’ I like that. Hopefully we can get justice for everybody who’s innocent and in the same predicament," she said. "This is a blessing. A blessing."

It took years to free Johnson. Johnson’s lawyer worked with the Connecticut Innocence Project, which is a part of the state public defender’s office.

Johnson was 16 when he confessed to the murder of a 70-year-old man named Herbert Fields in New Haven. Johnson's lawyer said detectives threatened him with the death penalty and coerced his confession, even though there was physical evidence that someone else committed the crime.

Herbert Fields’ daughter, Susan Troxler, was at Johnson’s hearing today.

"I don’t think he did it. I really don’t. I don’t think he did it ‘cause there’s a lot of evidence toward somebody else," she said. "That’s all I can say. I don’t think he did it, and that’s something I have to think about until they find the person who did it. I think about it every day."

The New Haven State’s Attorney, Michael Dearington, said the investigation into Fields’ murder remains open.

Kathie is a former editor at WSHU.