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NC Center on Actual Innocence says two Washington County men serving time for murder freed from prison

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Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 7:59 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) -Two men imprisoned for nearly 30 years for a murder they said they didn’t commit have been freed following plea deals with the state of North Carolina.

The NC Center on Actual Innocence posted on its Facebook page Friday that 49-year-old Brandon Jones and 63-year-old Leroy Spruill of Washington County had to drop their long-running innocence claims as part of the deal, but the state agreed DNA evidence tested years after their convictions could have had an effect on their case.

Jones and Spruill were convicted in the 1995 murder of Frank Swain.

Court records show a tire iron found at the scene had no fingerprints, but contained DNA from three people. None was from the two men.

The Center began investigating in 2001 after both men applied and has been committed to fighting for their freedom for two decades.

On November 9, Jones and Spruill walked to freedom after accepting Alford pleas that allowed them to be released with time served.

An Alford plea is when someone does not admit guilt but acknowledges evidence could lead to a guilty verdict.

The two plan to return to their families and friends.

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