Kerry Porter moments after his release from prison
Porter relaxing on his first night as a free man
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Stengel admits it took a long time to exonerate Kerry Porter. Stengel's office had been looking into the case since 2009.
On Monday, the Commonwealth's Attorney's office came to the conclusion that Porter did not murder Tyrone Camp in 1996. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Irv Maze dismissed a 1998 indictment against Porter and ordered him freed from prison after more than 14 years.
Several pieces of new evidence led to the decision. A major development in the case came in early December when investigators received DNA results. It was a very small amount of DNA, but Stengel said it was not Porter's.
Stengel said the DNA belongs to both a man and a woman.
Other evidence also led to the decision. Stengel said he cannot comment on what that evidence is, but he added that Louisville Metro Police have a statement that points to another person's guilt.
This is still an open investigation. The Commonwealth's Attorney said he hopes to charge someone else for Camp's murder in the near future. Stengel said there are more than two suspects in this case.
"I'm home," said Kerry Porter. That what's Porter says he was thinking when he was greeted by his family and supporters as he walked out of prison for the first time in nearly 15 years.
"Once I touched my mother's arm, it is alright now," said Porter.
Very overwhelmed, his family laughed together as they experienced this moment, long overdue. "For the first few days, I want to just relax with my family and friends and after that I need to get a good cry out," said Porter.
Porter always said he didn't do it and he got the attention of the Kentucky Innocence Project back in 2006. That group worked closely with Louisville Metro Police and Detective Sgt. Denny Butler who never stopped investigating this case.
"I was convinced of Mr. Porter's innocence the first time I met with him and reviewed his case file, and that doesn't happen every time," said Melanie Lowe Stratton with the Kentucky Innocence Project.
Soon it would be clear they had the wrong man. Porter was originally looked at because he was the ex-boyfriend of Tyrone Camp's current wife and investigators received tips that they have had run-ins before. At the murder trial an eye witness identified Porter as the killer, but he has even said he may have gotten it wrong.
"I wanted to thank Jerome Camp and his family and all my friends and supporters, they are the main people that helped bring this to light," said Porter.
Jerome Camp, the murder victim's twin brother, an unlikely supporter who says he realized early on this man didn't kill his brother.
"I kind of had the feeling that Kerry Porter wasn't the person who did it, and his wife set him up," said Camp. "At the time no one would listen, the prosecuting attorney's office, but I think now they are listening."
Porter gets to experience the holidays for the first time in a long time with the people who have stood by him through thick and thin.
"It's overwhelming," said Porter. "The amount of love and I'm getting all kinds of phone calls and I'm trying figure out how to work these new phones. It's overwhelming. It's nice. It feels like Christmas again."
Porter's murder conviction was dismissed without prejudice which means Porter could be retried. Stengel said he does not foresee that happening.
Porter plans to continue to follow this case in hopes of finding justice for Camp.
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