A New Orleans man, who spent 25 years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit, was exonerated of the crime on August 8. According to WWL-TV, Cedric Dent was sentenced to life without parole after he was found guilty of fatally shooting an individual in September 1997.
But Dent was adamant he did not commit the crime during his years behind bars. “I was a working man, I was taking care of my family all of a sudden things went wrong in my life and they took my life away from me,” Dent said. “I got locked up when I was 23 and I am 47 now, they took my good years away from me, for something I didn’t do.”
The fatal incident occurred after the victim and another individual got into an altercation. Dent was said to be watching a movie at a cinema when the incident happened. But he was arrested and charged in connection with the killing 11 days later.
Following his exoneration, Dent’s attorney, Meredith Angelson, said the Black man’s case was based on hearsays that weren’t corroborated. “Nobody ever went to the theater to try to see if somebody to try to corroborate that, nobody tried to find a paper record of that,” said Angelson. “There were systemic failures at every stage here, the police did not do their job, they did nothing to try and corroborate this identification of one witness.”
Angelson added that the lone witness in the case identified Dent as the shooter during a police lineup. And though the Black man did not match the description the witness gave, he was still implicated in the shooting.
“At trial, there was no other evidence, no physical evidence that tied Mr. Dent to the crime, it was really the testimony of this one witness,” Angelson said.
Dent’s mother, Earline Brooks Colbert, said her son wasn’t the only person in their family to have been wrongly incarcerated. “My brother Elvis who was wrongly incarcerated for 43 years,” she said.