NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A New Orleans man whose family said he was wrongfully convicted for the murder of a British tourist walked free Friday for the first time in 20 years.
Robert Jones was released after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction, noting that the Orleans DA's office withheld evidence.
"I can't explain it, it's beautiful. It's a great day," Jones said outside Orleans Parish Prison.
For the first time ever, Jones' daughter, Bree, saw her father outside of the criminal justice system.
"I've been looking forward to it for a long time," said Bree Anderson.
The appeals court threw out Jones' life sentence, after he was convicted for a string of 1992 crimes in the French Quarter.
"My faith in God, and my innocence, gave me the will to fight," he said.
He was originally arrested for the highly publicized 1992 murder of British tourist Julie Stott in front of the Ursulines Convent. But he wound up being convicted on other charges, in a case that the appeals court found prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence.
"There was a lot of evidence about who really did the crime, and it was not Robert Jones, it was not heard at trial, everything will be different going forward," said Jones' attorney, Richard Davis, with the Innocence Project.
"I knew this day would come one day, because I knew the truth would come out," Jones said.
Jones' mother promises to cook whatever her son wants.
"This is a blessed day for me, a blessed day," Lois Jones said.
After 23 years in prison, Jones has a lot of plans, and hopefully plans to open his own business.
"I'm going to be a good businessman and help those growing up in bad neighborhoods, but I'm a good businessman," Jones said.
Jones was freed on a $30,000 bond approved this past week by Judge Arthur Hunter. He will likely be retried on the old charges early next year, but he's confident of a different outcome now that a former prosecutor has come forward with evidence that may help him.