- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2007

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — A man who has been behind bars for seven years was freed yesterday after his accuser said he implicated the wrong person.

Teddy Pierries Thompson, 24, has been at the Southampton Correctional Center since being convicted in early 2001 on robbery and firearms charges. He also spent one year in jail awaiting trial. Mr. Thompson was to serve 11 more years in prison.

After the man who accused Mr. Thompson of robbing him recanted his statement in July, prosecutors asked that the conviction be dismissed. Hampton Circuit Court Judge Louis Lerner granted the request yesterday.

“I am so grateful that my son is free,” Mary Thompson said outside the courthouse. “He’s coming home. Thank you, Lord.”

Antonio Mitchell said he was robbed March 26, 2000, at 11 p.m. on a street in Hampton.

Despite Mr. Mitchell’s accusation, Mr. Thompson had witnesses placing him at a Virginia Beach recording studio at the same time, and he had a receipt for the time in the studio, said his attorney, Charles Haden.

Mr. Mitchell realized “a year or two ago” that he accused the wrong person of the robbery, but didn’t know what to do about it, Mr. Haden said.

He came forward July 30, and detectives deemed his reversal truthful.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Matthew Hoffman said he did not know why Mr. Mitchell took so long to come forward but will face no charges.

“If he had lied to us, we certainly would have pursued charges,” Mr. Hoffman said.

As for the man Mr. Mitchell now says robbed him, Mr. Hoffman said investigators will follow all leads in the case but acknowledged “it would be difficult to prove a case at this point.”

Mr. Thompson was at the hearing yesterday, then returned to the correctional center to be processed.

His mother said she had ribs and collard greens waiting for him at home.

“I can’t wait for the call, ‘Come get your son; he’s ready,’ ” she said.

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