A 59-year-old man walked out of prison as a free man for the first time in his adult life after serving over 40 years for a murder in Monroe. Gerald Manning was exonerated of his conviction in the 1977 death of Vonda Harris. His attorney, Kristin Wenstrom, says he accepted an opportunity to speed up the process of his freedom.

“He was offered an opportunity to take an Alford plea to lessen offenses. It would permit him to receive time served and walk out of prison.”

Wenstrom says years of DNA testing contributed to ensuring that Manning could once again have his freedom.

“Over a number of years we did DNA testing on the evidence and the result of that showed that Gerald Manning’s DNA was not on any of the items that were tested and touched by the perpetrator.”

Wenstrom says the family of Vonda Harris has always supported Manning.

“They have never believed that Gerald had anything to do with the attack on Vonda Harris. They have always supported him in his cause and urge the district attorney and the police to search for the real perpetrator.”

Manning plans to reunite with his mother in Monroe. Due to the fact that he accepted a plea agreement, he left prison with no compensation and only the clothes on his back. A freedom fund and an Amazon wishlist have been set up for those that would like to help in his transition to the outside world. Find the details at laccr.org.