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Oregon man on death row who professed innocence freed 25 years later

An Oregon man who was convicted of a 1998 murder, but professed his innocence, walked free this week after a quarter-century behind bars. 

Jesse Johnson, 62, was convicted of murdering Harriet “Sunny” Thompson, 28, at her home in Salem, Oregon, 25 years ago and was sentenced to death for the crime in 2004. 

The Oregon Innocence Project, who represented Johnson in his appeal, accused of state of “heinous injustice” in its handling of the case. 

“There were clear and unambiguous statements of racism by a detective involved in the case who discouraged a neighbor from sharing that she witnessed a White man running away from the scene on the night of the murder,” Steve Wax, Oregon Innocence Project’s legal director, said in a statement.

Prosecutors say there are no other suspects in Thompson’s murder. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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