Man to be freed after ’71 rape case is tossed
A Louisiana man who has spent nearly 50 years in prison is expected to be released Wednesday, about two weeks after a judge overturned his conviction in the kidnapping and rape of a nurse.
State District Court Judge Richard Anderson set a $2,000 bail for Wilbert Jones. The judge had said authorities withheld evidence that could have exonerated Jones decades ago.
Jones, 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 told police that the man who raped her was taller and had a “much rougher” voice than Jones had.