- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 26, 2020

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - A federal appeals court has granted a new hearing for a man who has spent 44 years in prison for a rape he says he didn’t commit.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling for a new hearing for Ronnie Long on Monday.

The court sent the 1976 rape case back to a federal court in North Carolina. He had asked for a review of his conviction. Long was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

Writing for the majority of judges who approved the new hearing, Judge Stephanie Thacker criticized North Carolina for defending Long’s conviction despite the possibility that investigators withheld evidence.

Long was a 20-year-old Black man living in Concord when he was accused of raping a white woman. He was convicted by an all-white jury that included members who have had connections to the victim.



Long’s attorneys have said that more than 40 fingerprints collected from the rape scene were never shared and did not match Long’s.

Semen samples also were never disclosed to the defense. They later disappeared.

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