A man who served 27 years in prison for the 1989 murder of a childhood girlfriend was released on $25,000 bail Thursday after the key witness in the case recanted. Anthony Sanborn, 44, had been convicted of killing 16-year-old Jessica Briggs and sentenced to 70 years in prison. At a hearing earlier Thursday, Hope Cady testified that as a troubled 13-year-old she was pressured by police and prosecutors into identifying Sanborn, who was 16 at the time, as the killer. She said she was facing juvenile charges, and authorities threatened to send her away for years. She said she was legally blind when the murder occurred, meaning her vision wasn't good enough to have been able to see what happened, the AP reports.
Officials say Briggs' throat was slit and she was stabbed repeatedly before being thrown in Portland Harbor. Cady testified that police and prosecutors told her what to say at trial and she had no knowledge of the killing. She said two detectives "stalked" her and shouted at her during an hours-long interview. Justice Joyce Wheeler appeared alarmed by how heavily the state had relied on Cady's testimony, reports the Bangor Daily News. "This is only a bail hearing so I cannot apologize to you now," she told Sanborn, whose supporters populated the courtroom. He buried his head in his hands and wept after learning that he could go home. "Finally," he said after leaving the court to be processed for release.