"We are very pleased to see Glenn Ford finally exonerated, and we are particularly grateful that the prosecution and the court moved ahead so decisively to set Mr. Ford free," Gary Clements and Aaron Novod, attorneys with the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana who have been representing Ford, said in a statement after Ford left prison Tuesday.
Work on Ford's release began last year after undisclosed new evidence in the death of Isadore Rozeman came to light, the Shreveport Times reported. A court order vacating Ford's first-degree murder conviction and death sentence was filed Tuesday.
The attorneys said the new, undisclosed evidence corroborated what their client claimed -- "That he was not present at nor involved in the crime for which he had been convicted and sentenced to death."
Ford, now 64, spent more than 26 years on death row, earning him the distinction of being Louisiana's longest serving death row inmate.
Ford, who occasionally did yard work for Rozeman, repeatedly denied participating in Rozeman's death. He was charged in February 1984 with murder, along with three other men. An all-white jury convicted him and sentenced him to die.
Ford's release was anticipated by the Rozeman family, who had been given a heads-up by the district attorney's office, the Times said.
"From a personal viewpoint for our family, this was a hard time and it was tragic that he was killed. It had a major impact, especially on my father, I think it had a negative impact on his health," Rozeman's nephew and Shreveport physician Phillip Rozeman told the Times.
The discovery off new evidence "is positive reflection on the criminal justice system that does the right thing for people," the nephew said. "We don't have any animosity for anyone. If someone else was involved or others were involved in his death there also will be justice for those people."
Ford's exoneration means the Rozeman case "becomes an unsolved homicide," First Assistant District Attorney Dale Cox said.