When David Ayers entered the courtroom, he said hello to Judge Nancy Russo with a smile. She was the same judge who sentenced him to life in prison nearly 11 years ago.

With his reading glasses hanging from his prison fatigues and his family in the crowd, Ayers listened to the state’s attorney ask the judge to set him free. And just like that, a man who woke up this morning in a jail cell, will fall asleep tonight in his own bed.

“I can’t wait to just get him and hug him and kiss him,” said Ayers’ sister Valerie after the hearing. “Let him know how much I really, really miss him.”

Valerie Ayers worked with members of the Innocence Project to reveal DNA evidence that would exonerate her brother.

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