A man accused of two murders was freed from prison after 25 years thanks to a piece of evidence that wasn't disclosed to his defense team decades ago.

Calvin Bright, 47, walked out of a jail in Washington, D.C. Wednesday night, reports CBS Washington affiliate WUSA-TV. He was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Tammy Peay and William Ramsey in 1994.

Lawyers for Bright were unaware of a letter from one D.C. police officer to another during the probe at the time in which another man was named as a suspect in the murders. It points to someone who was known as "Catman" as a person of interest, WUSA says.

According to WUSA, Benowitz said at a re-sentencing hearing Wednesday that, "About two years ago, so approximately 23.5 years after Mr. Bright was originally arrested in this case, there was a disclosure made by the United State's Attorney's Office that essentially said we found this note in…the file maintained by homicide detectives who were investigating the case originally that named another suspect, not Mr. Bright." 

"It would have changed everything about this case," said Bright's attorney, David Benowitz. He began representing Bright about 12 years ago.

"As Mr. Bright's original counsel testified, had he had that information, he would have changed how he investigated the case, how he litigated the case," Benowitz said.

Bright has always maintained his innocence. Benowitz said Bright also recently passed a polygraph test in which he was asked whether he committed the murders.

"I believed this day was going to come," Bright said after his release. "I never doubted it because I'm innocent."

Bright is 15 credits away from earning an associate's degree, Benowitz said. Bright said he plans to pursue a career in criminal justice and would like to open an investigation firm.

"So now I can do something about the next person that winds up in the predicament that I went into, I can do something about it," Bright said.

Bright was released on time served and will be on probation for five years. He also agreed not to sue the District ,as a condition of his release, according to Benowitz.

He was originally sentenced to 65 years to life, WUSA reports.

First published on February 13, 2020 / 5:57 AM

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