RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Outgoing North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue has issued pardons to the Wilmington 10, a group wrongly convicted in a notorious Civil Rights-era prosecution.
Perdue issued a pardon of innocence Monday for the nine black men and one white woman who combined were sentenced to nearly 300 years in prison for the 1971 firebombing of a Wilmington grocery store. The incident occurred after police shot a black teenager.
The pardon means the state no longer thinks the group committed a crime.
The three key witnesses in the case later recanted their testimony. Amnesty International and other groups took up the issue and portrayed the Wilmington 10 as political prisoners.
In November, NAACP state leaders said newly uncovered notes showed the prosecutor tried to keep blacks off the case's first jury.