HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) – After years of effort, a judge on the island of Hawaii on Tuesday overturned the conviction of the lone man who was still in jail for the 1991 murder of Dana Ireland ― eliciting tears and cheers from the man’s family in a Hilo courtroom.
Albert Ian Schweitzer, 51, spent 23 years behind bars for the murder he did not commit.
After the judge’s ruling, Schweitzer’s handcuffs were removed, he tearfully embraced his family and members of his legal team and left the courtroom holding his mother’s hand.
At a press conference following the decision, alongside his mother and other family members, a visibly emotional Schweitzer thanked the lawyers for his innocence project and the judge.
“I’m just grateful, very grateful,” he said.
Advances in DNA technology ruled out Schweitzer as the murderer, along with two others (Schweitzer’s brother Shawn and Frank Pauline) who were pinned down with the crime.
This means that the killer remains at large.
“The new DNA evidence … proves conclusively that a jury would likely return a different verdict of acquittal,” Judge Peter Kubota told the court, following a day-long hearing on a motion to have Mr. sentence.
Kubota then addressed Schweitzer directly, urging him to try to move on with his life.
Most of Tuesday’s testimony came from a California DNA expert, who said on the stand that advances in science clearly show that Schweitzer did not rape or murder Ireland.
Other experts on tread marks and bite marks also spoke.
Ireland was 23 when she was murdered.
She was cycling on Christmas Eve in Kapoho when she was hit by a vehicle.
His mutilated bicycle was found at the scene on the dirt road, along with a shoe and tufts of blond hair, but rescuers could not find the cyclist.
Thirty minutes later, Ireland was found in the bushes of a fishing trail along Waa Waa Road, five miles from the crash site. She was naked from the waist down and barely conscious.
Ireland died in hospital of blood loss.
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