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Man jailed for rape he did not commit is 'not bitter'

The man who spent nearly 46 years in prison has told ITV News he is not "bitter".

Wilbert Jones was released from prison last week.
Wilbert Jones was released from prison last week. AP

A man who spent nearly 46 years in prison for a crime he did not commit has told ITV News he is not "bitter" about what happened to him.

Wilbert Jones, now 65, was arrested aged 19 in 1972 for the kidnap and rape of a nurse.

But after it emerged authorities had withheld evidence that would have exonerated Mr Jones decades ago, a judge overturned his conviction.

In his first interview since his release last week, Mr Jones told ITV News he was not "bitter" about what happened to him and forgave those responsible.

Asked how it felt to be free, he said: "Great, I mean wonderful. You imagine how good it is to be free out of prison. I been locked up since I was a teenager."

Since his release he has been spending time with his family, and has received gifts from well-wishers around the world.

Mr Jones was arrested in 1972 on suspicion of abducting a nurse at gunpoint in a hospital car park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

He was convicted of aggravated rape at a 1974 retrial and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The nurse, who died in 2008, picked Mr Jones out of a police lineup more than three months after the rape. But she also told police that the man who raped her was taller and had a "much rougher" voice than Jones had.

Mr Jones' lawyers claim the nurse's description matches a man who was arrested but never charged in the rape of a woman abducted from another hospital car park, 27 days after the nurse's attack. The same man also was arrested on suspicion of raping another woman in 1973, but was only charged and convicted of armed robbery.

Prosecutors will appeal the decision to overturn his conviction, but the result will not be known for months.

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