Joseph Sledge, convicted in 1978 of the murders of two eastern North Carolina women and in jail since, may now be just a few short days to freedom.

The 70-year-old Georgia native, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, has a court date this Friday with three judges who have the authority to exonerate him, according to this report in the News & Observer.

The hearing follows a December finding by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission that Sledge’s case warranted further judicial review. As the N&O noted:

Investigators from the innocence commission found no physical evidence tying Sledge to the slayings. A hair left on one of the victim’s exposed torso revealed a partial DNA profile that does not belong to Sledge. Investigators have yet to identify another possible killer.

The prosecutor on the case, Columbus County District Attorney Jon David, has yet to say what his position is on Sledge’s fate, but can consent to his exoneration, as other prosecutors have done in recent innocence proceedings involving other wrongfully convicted men.

Read more about Sledge’s case here.

NC Policy Watch’s courts and law reporter Sharon McCloskey has our  must read story of the day. She previews the case of Joseph Sledge, who has spent half of his life behind bars for a double murder in Bladen County that he maintains he never committed.

DNA testing ruled out Sledge as the murderer in 2012, and this week the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence is in court working to have Sledge exonerated.

What makes the case even more extraordinary is that Sledge, if cleared, would not be not alone in this wrongful conviction. Here’s an excerpt from McCloskey’s story:

Should he prevail there (and in a later court review), the now 69-year-old Sledge will be the fourth innocent person cleared this year in North Carolina — joining Henry McCollum, Leon Brown, and Willie Womble, who were exonerated earlier this year.

Together they have more than 100 years in time spent behind bars – certainly more than a measure of any life.

Read the full story – Wrong place, wrong time, wrong conviction – on the main NC Policy Watch website.  And click below to hear a portion of Policy Watch’s recent radio interview with Christine Mumma, executive director of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence.

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Gov. Pat McCrory gave a pardon of innocence today to a man wrongly convicted of a 1988 slaying in Greensboro.

LaMonte Burton Armstrong, now 63 and living in Chapel Hill, had been released from prison in 2012 after a key witness recanted testimony that falsely linked Armstrong to the killing of Ernestine Compton, a professor at N.C. A & T.

The governor informed LaMonte Burton Armstrong of the pardon in a phone call today, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

McCrory’s pardon will mean Armstrong is eligible for compensation for the 16-plus years he spent in prison.

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