A New York judge has dismissed a murder charge against a Miami man in a 1986 killing because the defendant's right to a speedy trial was violated.

The New York Times reports that 44-year-old Justo Santos walked out of court a free man Thursday after Justice Robert Stolz ruled that the Manhattan district attorney's office waited too long to bring charges.

Authorities said Santos fled to the Dominican Republic after shooting restaurant owner Jose Martinez. He was 16 at the time and says he acted in self-defense.

The ruling was a blow to the victim's daughter, Joselyn Martinez. She spent years searching for her father's killer and finally found Santos in Miami through an Internet search.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said his office would consider its appeal options.