Homicide

Nearly 40 years after wrongful conviction, 70-year-old North Carolina man walks out of prison

Joseph Sledge hugs his sister Barbara Kinlaw after a special session of superior court in Whiteville, N.C. on Friday, Jan. 23,  2015. Sledge, 70, was freed from prison Friday, after a panel of judges found that he was wrongly convicted in the stabbing deaths of a mother and daughter nearly four decades ago. Christine Mumma, director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, is to the left. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Ethan Hyman)

Joseph Sledge hugs his sister Barbara Kinlaw after a special session of superior court in Whiteville, N.C. on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. Sledge, 70, was freed from prison Friday, after a panel of judges found that he was wrongly convicted in the stabbing deaths of a mother and daughter nearly four decades ago. Christine Mumma, director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, is to the left. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Ethan Hyman)  (The Associated Press)

For the third time in less than six months, a North Carolina inmate was exonerated by DNA evidence and freed after spending decades in prison for a wrongful murder conviction.

This time, 70-year-old Joseph Sledge was set free on Friday after a three-judge panel found that he was innocent of killing a mother and daughter in 1976. The hearing was called after an investigation by the state's one-of-a kind investigative panel on innocence.

So far, Sledge is the eighth person exonerated after an investigation by the commission, which started operating in 2007. It has reviewed and closed about 1,500 cases.