Steven Avery eat your heart out…
A man in China who has spent 23 years in prison for arson and murder was acquitted today.
Chen Man from Sichuan province was arrested at the end of 1992, after being accused of setting fire to a house, which led to the death of a man, the People’s Daily Online reports.
However, a ruling today confirmed Chen was not guilty due to a lack of sufficient evidence. Sounds pretty similar to another high-profile case featured in a certain Netflix documentary, doesn’t it?
He was smiling as he left the prison this morning and conducted interviews with news outlets outside the gate.
Chen called his mum as soon as he was freed and his family immediately booked him a flight home.
Speaking to reporters, Chen said: “I am an innocent person. Even in prison I knew I wasn’t guilty and that one day I would be able to leave.”
He was charged with murder by the Hainan People’s Procuratorate in November 1993 and was sentenced to death, suspended for two years, in November 1994.
In the past 23 years, Chen and his family have continually appealed against the ruling, insisting that he was innocent.
Zhang Qin, a judge from Zhejiang Provincial High Court, said: “It is a misjudged case. His confession, material evidence and investigation records at the crime scene cannot prove that Chen is guilty.”
According to Chen’s attorney during the original trial, one piece of evidence was a kitchen knife which was said to belong to Chen.
However, when he asked for police to show the piece of evidence, they said they had lost it. Just, wow.
It’s also believed that Chen had had been tortured into confessing and that there were witnesses who could prove that he was not at the scene when the murder occurred.
Chen says he will now ask for compensation.
The case is incredibly similar to that of Steven Avery, whose case inspired documentary Making A Murderer and has been subject to heated debate regarding his possible innocence and the role of the Manitowoc Country Sheriff’s Department.
Avery spent 18 years in prison for a wrongful sexual assault conviction. Aided by the Wisconsin Innocence Project, he was exonerated when improved DNA testing of evidence found a match with another man.
After he was released in 2003, he began a civil lawsuit against the sheriff’s department and district attorney of Manitowoc County, but Avery was arrested again in 2005, this time for the murder of Teresa Halbach and sentenced to life in prison.
Only time will tell if Avery gets a happy ending like Chen Man.