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Hot! Man Cleared Of Drive-By Shooting After 19 Years!

A Los Angeles man imprisoned for 19 years for a murder he didn’t commit was exonerated and set free from prison on Monday. Cheers erupted in the courtroom as the judge exonerated John Edward Smith of a drive-by shooting in 1993, NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate NBC4 reported. Late Monday, Smith left Los Angeles Men’s Central Jail.

“I’m just thankful the same system that made the error was able to find the same avenue to get me out,” Smith said to a throng of reporters who met him outside the jail Monday night.

“I’m not bitter at all. That ain’t gonna get me nowhere, you know. I gotta move forward,” he said, according to NBC4. When asked what he was going to do next, Smith replied: “I’m gonna go home and hug my grandmother.”

Smith, who The Associated Press described as a former gang member, was convicted of killing a man during a 1993 drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. Another man survived and was the single witness to the alleged crime. Two years ago, he recanted the testimony that led to Smith’s 1994 conviction for first-degree murder and attempted murder.

Smith was 18 when he went to prison. He told authorities he was at his grandmother’s house with family when the shooting took place in a gang-infested area. He said he knew nothing about the crime until his mother called to tell him about it.

The 37-year-old was scheduled to be released on Friday, but the judge was out due to illness. But Smith was all smiles on Monday as Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg released him after nearly two decades behind bars: “Mr. Smith, you are now free.”

The ruling evoked mixed emotions from Smith’s family. “I’m happy. I’m sad. But the part of me that was in there with him, I’m free now, too,” said Laura Neal, Smith’s grandmother and primary caretaker. “I was hoping and praying that before I die he will be with me again,” she said.

NBC News

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