Crime and Courts

DC Man Freed From Prison After New Evidence Found in Double Murder

Calvin Bright agreed not to sue the District as part of his early release deal

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A man walked out of the D.C. jail on Wednesday night after 25 years of incarceration for a crime he says he did not commit.

A note found in an old police homicide file was a key to his early release.

Calvin Bright, 47, had been convicted of the 1994 killings of Tammy Peay and William Ramsey in Northeast Washington. He was supposed to serve 65 years.

"I believed that this day was going to come all the time. I never doubted it because I'm innocent," Bright said. "The great God and the universe... He can open doors that can't no man close."

Bright always maintained his innocence and for the past decade, his attorney David Benowitz worked for his freedom.

"There were times where I was, you know... I don't think I ever told him this. I was filled with despair," Benowitz said. He said the early release is one of the pinnacles of his career.

Bright's legal team eventually found a note inside a D.C. Police homicide file that implicated another man in the murders. Benowitz says that note and the information in it was never disclosed before.

In addition, he says the stories of the witnesses who helped convict Bright started to fall apart. One admitted she was high on crack at the time and it was too dark to see. 

The new evidence was enough to bring Bright’s conviction into question and to convince the judge to order Bright’s release on time served.

The deal does not erase the conviction and Bright will be on probation for five years. The release deal also means he had to agree not to sue the District.

Bright says he hopes to return to school and eventually a private investigation firm, which is his passion.

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