CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - A Caddo Parish man who spent 30 years on death row for the murder of a Shreveport jeweler is now a free man.
"My mind going all kind of directions, but it feels good," said Glenn Ford, moments after taking his first steps outside the gates of Angola State Penitentiary just before 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Asked what he planned to do first as a free man, Ford replied, "Ah go get something to eat."
"Do you harbor any resentment?" Ford was asked.
"Yeah because I was locked up almost 30 years for something I didn't do," answered Ford. "It's resentment, not feeling bitter."
Caddo Parish District Judge Ramona Emanuel signed the order vacating the 64-year-old's first degree murder conviction and death sentence on Monday, paving the way for Ford's release.
"Words can't really express it but it's a wonderful day and we've been working on this for decades literally so we hope that it will be the first day for Glenn to start a new life," said Ford's Attorney Gary Clements.
According to the order signed by the judge, "credible evidence" came to the attention of the Caddo Parish District Attorney in late 2013, "supporting a finding that Glenn Ford was neither present at, nor a participant in, the robbery and murder of Isadore Rozeman."
The 56-year-old jeweler and watchmaker was found shot to death behind the counter of his Stoner Avenue shop on November 5, 1983. Three other men were initially arrested along with Ford, but the charges against them were eventually dismissed.
Ford, who did occasional yard work for Rozeman, has always maintained his innocence.
Testimony during the trial indicated Ford was near the crime scene the day of the murder. Evidence used to convict Ford included fingerprints and receipts signed by Ford for pawned items determined to be stolen from Rozeman's jewelry store.
Caddo Parish District Attorney Charles Scott cited "new reliable information" in the request for Ford's release, saying that "the State now believes that whatever the involvement of Glenn Ford in the robbery or murder of Isadore Rozeman, the new information, if known at the time of the trial, would reasonably have resulted in a different outcome. … Indeed, if the information had been within the knowledge of the state, Glenn Ford might not even have been arrested or indicted for this offense."
Scott tells KSLA News 12, "We were advised by a representative from the Caddo Parish Sheriff's department that they had received information concerning the killing of Isadore Rozeman on Stoner Avenue, and we received this information back in the fall. After we received that information and advised the defense council as we certainly would have done anyway and as we are obligated to do. We followed up for additional information and when we were satisfied that we had evidence that tended to show that Mr. Ford was not the killer of Isadore Rozeman we filed a motion."
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon on behalf of the Capital Post Conviction Project, Squire Sanders LLP stated, "According to Mr. Ford's attorneys, his trial was profoundly compromised by inexperienced counsel and by the unconstitutional suppression of evidence at his trial, including information from an informant, a suppressed police report related to the time of the crime, and evidence of the murder weapon, which implicated the true perpetrator."
Prosecutors would not reveal what that new evidence is, saying it could jeopardize their future case against their actual killer.
As the Shreveport Times first reported Monday night, Caddo Parish prosecutors filed the motion on Thursday. The motion does not specify what the new information is. The Times reports that they have been tracking developments in the case since August, after a handful of motions filed in federal court indicated someone other than Ford had confessed to being Rozeman's killer.
For its part, Rozeman's family says the news of Ford's overturned conviction brings back painful memories. Rozeman's nephew Dr. Phillip Rozeman is optimistic the prosecution's credible evidence will soon lead to another arrest.
"The only thing that we hope is that if there is someone else involved, that if there was someone else involved, that there will be justice for that person," said Rozeman.
Ford's newly found justice comes well behind schedule but it will also come with some financial help from the state of Louisiana. According to the Innocence Project, the state pays the wrongfully incarcerated $25,000 for each year in prison with a cap of $250,000. Wrongfully convicted can also receive an additional $80,000 for loss of life opportunities. Ford says he is happy to have that life back better late than never.
"It feels good," said Ford. "It feels real good."