A man who has spent 20 years in prison on a murder conviction, is now out after new evidence has come to light.
Miguel Roman, 52, was convicted of killing Carmen Lopez, 17, in the 1980s and has spent 20 years in jail for her death.
A judge Friday granted a new trial and ordered he be released on a written promise in court on Feb. 5.
Roman was sentenced to 60 years in prison for killing Lopez, his girlfriend.
More than 40 of Roman's family members packed the courtroom, with many cheering and crying as the judge announced his decision.
Wearing jeans, a white T-shirt and a black jacket, Roman said nothing as he left the Hartford courthouse. He looked stunned as he was rushed through a crowd of reporters and cheering family members to a waiting SUV.
"I have to go Christmas shopping again. I thought I was done," joked Roman's daughter Anna, who was 8 years old when her father was convicted. Now 28, she said the entire family was planning a huge get-together to welcome her father.
"We always stick together," said Anna Roman, adding how she couldn't explain how she felt after finally seeing her father freed.
"It's a miracle," said Efrain Colon, 42, Roman's uncle. "I knew that someday he'll be coming out."
Benjamin Maldonado, Roman's brother-in-law who flew in from Florida Thursday night, added, "I'm happy! I'm happy!"
An FBI investigator testified in Roman's trial that tests eliminated him as a suspect, but a jury convicted him on circumstantial evidence and witness testimony, according to the arrest warrant affidavit for Miranda.
Roman has been in state custody since June 10, 1988, according to records obtained by a Freedom of Information request from the state Department of Correction. Since September 2007, he was held at the maximum-security MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution.
While in prison he was disciplined once, for making threats in 1991, and was placed in punitive segregation for 10 days, the records show.
The Connecticut Innocence Project petitioned court officials last week for a new trial on behalf of Lopez.
Karen Goodrow, an attorney and director of the Connecticut Innocence Project, asked the judge to release Roman on a promise to appear in court. She said Roman has strong ties to family in Connecticut, and he planned to live in New Britain after being released.
Prosecutor David Zagaja said the new DNA evidence would have produced a "different result" in the criminal case against Roman. He said DNA analysis in the 1980s "had its limitations."
- Rosa Valentin, 16, was last seen alive in Miranda’s car on July 26, 1986. Her body has never been found and she is presumed dead, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice.
- Mayra Cruz, 13, was reported missing when she did not return home from school in Hartford on Oct. 8, 1987. Her body was found in a wooded area in East Windsor on Nov. 8, 1987.
- Carmen Lopez’s relatives last heard from her on Jan. 2, 1988. She was found strangled on Jan. 5, 1988, in an apartment on Nelton Court in Hartford.
Miranda was convicted in the May 29, 1998, sexual assault of a 24-year-old woman in West Hartford and was required to register on the State of Connecticut Sex Offender Registry.