Arthur Brown, 66, was freed from jail Tuesday in Chicago after serving nearly 30 years on a double murder conviction in connection with an arson fire that he had steadfastly insisted he did not set, reports the Chicago Tribune. Brown was ordered released after Cook County prosecutors reversed course, announcing at a morning court hearing that they were dropping charges. According to his lawyer, Brown was 37 and had no criminal history when he was arrested for a fatal fire in 1988 on Chicago’s South Side. He was convicted of murder and arson and sentenced to life in prison. As he emerged from jail, Brown said he wanted to focus on his family and hopes to work helping others. “I missed a lot,” he said.
Last month Judge Joseph Claps tossed out Brown’s conviction and ordered a retrial after concluding that prosecutors at a second trial in 2008 had made multiple false arguments to the jury and that Brown’s lawyer later failed to raise those issues on appeal. Earlier this month, prosecutors had said at a hearing that they would fight the judge’s decision but reversed course after looking into the case. Robert Foley, a senior adviser in the state’s attorney’s office, said in an email that prosecutors “determined there were significant evidentiary issues that raised deep concerns about the fairness of Mr. Brown’s conviction.” Brown maintained his innocence through two trials, multiple appeals and lengthy post-conviction proceedings.