Associated Press

January 31. 2007 9:04PM

Easley grants pardon of innocence to man jailed for robbery

The Associated Press

North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley has pardoned a Sanford man who spent more than five years in prison for a 1998 armed robbery in Goldsboro.

There was no physical evidence against Steve Snipes, only testimony that the masked robber of the convenience store sounded like Snipes trying to disguise his voice, The News & Observer of Raleigh has reported.

Snipes presented alibis and a witness who testified that a man named Terrance Wyatt was the robber. Wyatt was caught committing an identical robbery while Snipes was in prison.

At District Attorney Tom Lock's request, the State Bureau of Investigation re-examined the case. After that, Lock consented to Snipes' release and indicted Wyatt for the robberies.

Lock has said he told the governor's office he backs Snipes' April 2004 request for a pardon.

"I just want my name cleared and it stricken off my record," Snipes told the newspaper in 2005.

Snipes' attorney, Paul Green, said late Wednesday that his client will likely apply for compensation available to people wrongly convicted. Under state law, Snipes could be eligible for $20,000 for each year he spent in prison.

"Anybody in their right mind would rather have those five and a half years back, but it's something. He's been hurt by the conviction and the loss of time," Green said.

Green said he and his client were grateful to Easley, Lock, the SBI and Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks.

"There's no question that it's the right thing," Green said.

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