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Judge Exonerates Queens Man Who Served Most Of 43-Year Sentence For '89 Murder

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Queens man is free Monday after serving most of a 43-year sentence for a murder he did not commit.

A judge cleared his record and he reunited with his family for the first time in decades outside a prison cell, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported.

"Give me a minute with my mom right here," Carlton Roman said as he hugged his mom in front of reporters.

The emotional embrace between Roman, 59, and his mother came moments after a judge exonerated him for the 1989 murder of Lloyd Witter.

Police said it happened at a home on 168th Street in Jamaica, where Roman was also accused of attempted murder on Jomo Kenyatta, who was injured. Kenyatta and another survivor testified that Roman was the shooter.

More than two decades later, 911 tapes obtained by Rev. Robert Dickerson, a private investigator, painted a different picture.

"I got Mr. Roman's file, the transcript, and compared that with the 911 tapes and that's all she wrote. Everything was inconsistent," Dickerson said.

The Queens District Attorney said her office interviewed more than 30 witnesses across the country and in Jamaica.

"Three new witnesses who revealed alternate suspects and additional descriptions of the perpetrators who had distinct hair colors and physical features that do not match," Queens DA Melinda Katz said.

Roman had no criminal record and had just graduated college with a business degree. He was also a new father.

"Absolutely fabulous. It's been 31 years, everybody here can't imagine what it feels to be literally in hell," Roman said.

His mom never gave up. She said one of the men who testified against her son called the day after the homicide to tell him one of the victims had died.

"If my son Carlton killed him, why would somebody call in the morning to tell him that he died?" said Arel Claudette Phillips.

"It devastated everyone, everyone, everyone. Each sad moment, the father passed away, his grandma passed away," said Patrisha Douglas, Roman's aunt.

He can now spend time with his daughter that he missed out on for decades.

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