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Man serving 130-year jail sentence gets released from prison after evidence proved his innocence

Rachel Lang

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| Last updated 

Man serving 130-year jail sentence gets released from prison after evidence proved his innocence

Featured Image Credit: Hawaii News Now. AP

A man has been released from jail after spending more than two decades in prison for the assault, kidnapping, and murder of a tourist in 1991.

Hawaiian man Albert 'Ian' Schweitzer, who is now 51, was freed after new DNA evidence proved he was not responsible for murdering Dana Ireland.

Ireland was 23-years-old when she was found in a patch of pushes along a fishing trail in a remote part of Hawaii's Big Island on Christmas Eve.

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She was barely alive, had been sexually assaulted, and beaten to a pulp.

She later died at Hilo Medical Center.

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Police also found her ruined bicycle, which was discovered several miles away and looked to have been run over by a vehicle.

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But now it seems her cruel killer may have gotten away with murder as new evidence indicated there was none of Schweitzer's DNA on her body or bike.

He has always maintained his innocence, despite being sentenced to 130 years behind bars for her brutal death.

And now the courts finally agree with him.

Judge Peter Kubota ruled on January 24 that Schweitzer should be 'released from his shackles immediately', according to AP.

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There was applause in the courtroom after the judge handed down his decision.

A shell shocked-looking Schweitzer spoke to AP about how he felt when Judge Kubota ruled in his favor.

"My feelings were all over the place. Nerves, anxiety, scared," he said.

Schweitzer told reporters he was 'grateful' for the judge doing the 'honorable thing', but also dubbed the justice system as 'flawed'.

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The now 51-year-old's release was thanks in a large part to Hawaii's Innocence Project, which fights to clear people who have become trapped in the web of the US justice system.

Credit: Hawaii News Now. AP
Credit: Hawaii News Now. AP

Co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Project Kenneth Lawson told AP that whenever a white, female victim falls foul of something in Hawaii, the case typically gets more attention than people of color and Native Hawaiians.

"The parents, understandably, were becoming more and more infuriated," he said of the 2000 conviction.

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"There was insurmountable pressure to solve this case. And when that happens, mistakes are made. Some intentional and some unintentional."

The Hawaii Innocence Project together, with assistance from the Innocence Project in New York, worked on Schweitzer's release after the other men also convicted for the crime were released when new evidence came to light.

The three convicted and then absolved of their crimes were Native Hawaiian men.

But there is still no justice for Dana Ireland, with the DNA found on her body belonging to an unknown person.

Topics: News, US News, Crime, True crime

Rachel Lang
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