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Hawaiian man wrongfully convicted of murder freed after 23 years

A judge overturned the conviction of a Hawaiian man who was sentenced to 130 years in prison for the rape, kidnapping and murder of a woman in 1991, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Albert “Ian” Schweitzer, now 51, was arrested and charged with the murder of Dana Ireland in 1997 along with his brother Shawn Schweitzer and Frank Pauline. 

Hilo Circuit Judge Peter Kubota officially vacated Schweitzer’s conviction on Tuesday after a hearing that introduced updated DNA testing, newly discovered evidence and expert testimony that argued Schweitzer’s innocence. 

The Hawaii Innocence Project’s lawyers, who previously filed a petition on Monday for Schweitzer’s release, detailed this evidence to the court, according to Hawaii Tribune-Herald. 

“The new DNA evidence … conclusively proves a jury would likely reach a different verdict of acquittal,” Judge Peter Kubota told the court, Hawaii News Now reported. 

Upon his release, Schweitzer told KHON that his family was ripped apart during the process due to his brother also serving time in a wrongful conviction. 

The new DNA evidence, which pointed to an unidentified male, allowed for Schweitzer to be exonerated.

“A lot of people who don’t live here in Hawaii really don’t understand the impact this case had on this family and community,” co-director of the Hawaii Innocence Project Ken Lawson said after the hearing. “It wasn’t just about Ian. It devastated his life, but it affected the entire family.

According to KHON, Schweitzer is invited to speak at a gala in New York and share his experience.

“I’m going to take Judge Kubota’s advice and live this next third of my life being a blessing,” Schweitzer told KHON. “To be blessed is to be a blessing to someone else.”

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