(NBC News) - Alabama inmate Anthony Ray Hinton walked out of prison Friday as a free man after 30 years on death row. He told a gathering of family and supporters that "the sun does shine."
Hinton, 59, wiped away tears as he lamented about the painstaking fight to clear his name in the 1985 fatal shootings of two Birmingham-area fast-food restaurant managers.
His capital murder convictions were finally tossed Thursday after years spent arguing that the revolver that police say was used in the slayings didn't match the evidence at the scenes.
"I want to say to the victims, 'I would continue to pray for you, just as I have for 30 years, a miscarriage of justice just not for me, but for the victims,'" Hinton told reporters before turning his attention to the prosecution's faulty casework.
"Everyone who played a part in sending me to death row," he added, "you will answer to God."
He also thanked his attorneys with the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative for securing his release after a number of stinging setbacks. Prosecutors have said they do not plan to retry Hinton.
His attorney, Bryan Stevenson, said a combination of racial biases against Hinton, who is black, and his impoverished background worked against him in getting his conviction overturned sooner.
"This is a very, very happy day," Stevenson said. "It's a tragic day, too, because Mr. Hinton spent 30 years locked in a 5-by-8 cell ... but he's an extraordinary human being."