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After Serving 12 Years On Death Row, Virginia Man Is Vindicated, Free

Michael Wayne Hash served 12 years in prison, after he was convicted of capital murder.

In March, a court found deep problems with how prosecutors achieved that conviction, so he threw it out and told the state it needed to make a decision on whether it would take Hash to trial again.

Today, the Culpeper Star-Exponent reports, prosecutors conceded that they didn't have the evidence to pursue another trial and Hash walked out of the Culpeper, Virginia court room a free man.

His mother, Pam, who spent years collecting evidence to prove his innocence, and his father cried outside the courtroom, saying they were relieved and joyful.

Among the evidence that his mother uncovered was that the prosecution coached witnesses and failed to disclose a plea deal. His mother also found that Hash was moved to another jail so he could have contact with the witness who said Hash had told him about killing Thelma B. Scroggins.

If you're interested in further reading about the case, The Richmond Times-Dispatch ran a definitive piece on the story.

We'll leave with some words Hash told The Washington Post:

"He kept thinking, all through his arrest and trials and imprisonment, 'This is a nightmare I'm going to wake up from.' Now that he's home, he said, he keeps thinking, 'Maybe this is a good dream — maybe I will wake up and I'm still in prison.'"

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.