Louisiana

On 44th birthday, man cleared in violent 1992 crime spree

Robert Jones, right, speaks with reporters, with defense attorneys Emily Maw, left, and Barry Scheck, at the New Orleans courthouse, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. Prosecutors formally dropped charges Thursday against Jones who spent more than 20 years behind bars for a 1992 crime spree that included the slaying of a British tourist. (AP Photo/Kevin McGill)

Robert Jones, right, speaks with reporters, with defense attorneys Emily Maw, left, and Barry Scheck, at the New Orleans courthouse, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. Prosecutors formally dropped charges Thursday against Jones who spent more than 20 years behind bars for a 1992 crime spree that included the slaying of a British tourist. (AP Photo/Kevin McGill)  (The Associated Press)

Tears of relief and joy flowed in a New Orleans courtroom as prosecutors formally dropped charges against a man who spent more than 20 years behind bars for a 1992 crime spree that included the slaying of a British tourist.

Robert Jones had been free on bond since 2015 as legal advocates, including famed Innocence Project attorney Barry Scheck, argued the case against him had been "riddled with prosecutorial misconduct."

The advocates alleged that assistant prosecutors in former District Attorney Harry Connick's office withheld crucial evidence.

Charges including aggravated rape were dropped and Jones' guilty plea to a manslaughter charge was vacated Thursday — his 44th birthday.

An emotional Jones stood silently and gathered his thoughts before declaring that his belief in the criminal justice system was restored.