Eugene Gilyard and Lance Felder are still serving the life prison terms they began 15 years ago for the robbery-murder of North Philadelphia businessman Thomas Keal.
But Tuesday brought them the first real hope of a day not measured by the curfews and confines of life in a state prison.
Calling the original trial evidence against them “extremely weak” and citing newly discovered evidence, including a confession from another man to Keal’s slaying, a Philadelphia judge granted Gilyard and Felder new trials.
Common Pleas Court Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi spoke for 35 minutes before saying the evidence uncovered by investigators and lawyers for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project could persuade a new jury to acquit the pair.
“This is the type and quality of evidence that needs to be put before a jury,” said DeFino-Nastasi, triggering a storm of cheers and tears in a courtroom packed with relatives and friends of the two men.