Governor Grants Pardon To Wilmington 10

Outgoing North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue has issued pardons to the Wilmington 10, a group wrongly convicted in a notorious Civil Rights-era prosecution.

Perdue issued a pardon of innocence Monday for the nine black men and one white woman who combined were sentenced to nearly 300 years in prison. They were convicted in the 1971 firebombing of a grocery store during three days of violence that included the police shooting of a black teenager.

The pardon means the state no longer thinks the group committed a crime.

The case's three key witnesses recanted their testimony. Amnesty International and other groups portrayed the Wilmington 10 as political prisoners.

In November, NAACP state leaders said newly uncovered notes showed the prosecutor tried to keep blacks off the case's first jury.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)