Bail set for convict after ’71 case thrown out
BATON ROUGE — A Louisiana man who has spent nearly 50 years in prison came a step closer to being freed Tuesday when state District Judge Richard Anderson set his bail Tuesday at $2,000 about two weeks after his conviction in the 1971 kidnapping and rape of a nurse was overturned.
Wilbert Jones didn’t show any visible reaction when Anderson set his bail. The judge previously said the case against Jones was “weak, at best” and that authorities withheld evidence that could have exonerated Jones decades ago.
While prosecutors said they will ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the judge’s decision, they do not intend to retry Jones.
Jones, now 65, was 19 when police arrested him on suspicion of abducting a nurse at gunpoint from a Baton Rouge hospital’s parking lot and raping her behind a building on the night of Oct. 2, 1971. Jones was convicted of aggravated rape at a 1974 retrial and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The state’s case against Jones “rested entirely” on the nurse’s testimony and her “questionable identification” of Jones as her assailant, the judge has said. The nurse, who died in 2008, picked 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.