Man Convicted in 1970 Coconut Grove Murder Set Free

A man convicted in a fatal robbery of a ice cream truck driver in Coconut Grove, Florida, more than 40 years ago when he was just a teen is a free man.

Prince Johnson has been in prison since he was 16, following his 1971 trial for first-degree murder in the death of Marta Roman.

At a hearing Friday, a Miami-Dade judge furloughed the sentence. Johnson thanked his family after he was set free.

"My family, for all the moral support they gave me, standing by me," he said.

Prosecutors accused Johnson and another teenager of shooting Roman during a robbery of her ice cream truck in July 1970. Two 6-year-old girls told investigators they heard the shots and saw the teens running away from the ice-cream truck.

At first, prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for Johnson, but a judge sentence him to life in prison instead.

"The State knew that there was another person involved, they couldn't connect it. Prince was never alleged to be the shooter in this case, he was a kid who possibly got swept into this incident," public defender Gail Lewis said.

"I'm so happy and I want everybody to know there is a God up above," family member Olive Johnson-Coley said. "He missed his whole life, he was only 16."

"He wouldn't take anything from people, he was different but today is my day, I can't wait to kiss him," aunt Kathleen Basten said.

Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all juvenile offenders sentenced to death or to life in prison must be re-sentenced. The court deemed it a cruel and unusual punishment otherwise, and now the courts are seeing more cases like Johnson's.

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