It’s been nearly 20 years since Gerard Richardson was found guilty for the murder of a 19-year-old in New Jersey, and on Tuesday a judge finally dismissed his case because the DNA evidence from a bite mark that largely contributed to his imprisonment could not be tied to him.
"I wish I had words for this event, but I don't," state Superior Court Judge Julie Marino said, the Associated Press reports. "You've been through a tremendous ordeal, one that none of us in this room can relate to. I hope this won't be the defining moment of your life, but that it becomes an anecdote."
In late October, Richardson was released on bond due to DNA testing done by the Innocence Project, which showed that the bite-mark taken from the victim’s back could not have been his doing, as it could not be matched. Richardson was convicted with huge clout placed on that evidence.
Richardson is now just trying to focus on Christmas with his family, which includes three sons, three daughters and 10 grandchildren.
"I have a lot of presents to buy," he said. "It's like the judge said, nobody can imagine what I went through, but I made it … Now I've got bigger things ahead."
Still undetermined is whether the prosecution will decide to retry Richardson, but the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office did not protest his release on bail back in October. The office has until Tuesday to decide on the retrial.
Read more at the Associated Press.