Surrounded by a crowd of dozens of supporters, Benjamine Spencer walked out of the Dallas County Jail Thursday. It was his first time out of police custody in more than three decades.
Just a couple of hours before, a judge ruled Spencer should be released on a personal recognizance bond after the Dallas County District Attorney’s office announced that his conviction should be vacated.
In 1987, Spencer was convicted for killing a man during a robbery. Later, he was issued a new trial. That time, he was convicted for aggravated robbery and sentenced to life in prison.
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He always maintained his innocence.
As he was released Thursday, Spencer thanked the crowd of supporters taking time to individually name some of the people who’ve worked to get the conviction overturned.
“I appreciate everyone for their support, the love that’s been shown to me through the years. I can’t say enough about it. I’m thankful for this. I'm thankful to finally have made it to this point in my life,” said Spencer.
Outside of the courtroom following his bond hearing, District Attorney John Creuzot explained that though they’re not yet saying Spencer is innocent, his office’s Conviction Integrity Unit found most of the evidence used to convict him no longer holds up.
"The more this has gone on, these witnesses have layer by layer peeled off their testimony. With the exception of one, who we cannot find, they've all denied that they saw anything or that anything happened,” said Creuzot.
From here, Spencer’s case will go to the state's highest criminal court, which must agree that he was wrongly convicted.
Then, the case goes to Dallas County prosecutors.
They'll decide whether to retry Spencer, dismiss the case or agree to his claim of "actual innocence."
It’s unclear when the court will take up Spencer's case.