PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. (WJLA) - On Tuesday, 75-year-old convicted killer Ernest Dubose took his first steps as a free man in 41 years. He was sentenced to life in 1972 and never paroled.
His daughter says she always had hope.
“It feels great. I'm excited,” says Michelle Melson.
Melvin Jones, 66, also went free Tuesday after 37 years in prison. He was sentenced to life in 1978 after his fourth armed robbery. His daughter says she's overwhelmed.
“He did his time and now it’s done,” says Elizabeth Weaver.
The men are free because of a court of appeals ruling involving the case of Hagerstown cop killer Merle Unger. The heart of it is that before 1980, many Maryland judges gave juries improper instructions before deliberation.
The court ruled the convicted who are still in prison, 299 in all, are due new trials.
After so many years, the Prince George’s County state's attorney says she just isn’t prepared to prosecute many of the 19 eligible cases in her jurisdiction.
“This was 1980 and before but a mistake was made and we have an opportunity to remedy that mistake and that's why we're here,” State’s attorney Angela Alsobrooks says.
At Tuesday’s hearing, a judge ordered that Jones and Dubose be freed immediately. A third double murderer was denied release and will be re-tried.
For the Jones’ and Dubose’s families, it was a day of re-unions meetings and an uncertain future for two men who had no future.
“I really do believe he's a great dad and I love him,” Melson says.