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Prosecutor Blocks Release of Man Who Claims Wrongful Conviction

SOMERVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Hope turned to disappointment inside a New Jersey courtroom on Thursday.

Lawyers for a man convicted of murder said new DNA testing proves he is innocent. However, prosecutors were not ready to say the man was wrongfully imprisoned, CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported.

Gerard Richardson entered court with a smile for his family and hope in his heart that he might walk free.

But it was not to be, much to his daughter's dismay.

"Sad, 'cause I really miss him.  I just wish this all was over with and he got his life back. That's it," Vivian Nash said.

Richardson has served almost 20 years for a murder he has always insisted he did not commit.

It happened in 1994. A battered body was found in a ditch off Old Stage Coach Road in Bernards. Her name was Monica Reyes. She occasionally sold drugs for Richardson, Aiello reported.

At trial, bite mark expert Ira Titunik testified that a bite mark on the victim's back was made by Gerard Richardson.

The defense expert disagreed but the jury convicted.

"He stated on the day of his sentencing 'I will never confess to what I didn't do,'" said Kevin Richardson, Gerard's brother.

Now years later a DNA test using new technology found the saliva taken from the bite mark did not come from Gerard Richardson.

"It was left by the person who killed her, and we have robust reliable DNA evidence that established a full profile that shows that person is not Gerard Richardson. This conviction cannot stand," said Vanessa Potkin of The Innocence Project.

On Thursday, Potkin asked a judge to toss the conviction, arguing that not only does the DNA point to someone else; the bite mark analysis is now viewed with suspicion by many in the legal field.

But prosecutor Tim Van Hise said not so fast.

"It's not as simple as counsel would have this court believe," Van Hise said.

Van Hise made clear he still believes Gerard Richardson is guilty. He said he will defend the bite mark analysis and will argue the DNA on the victim could have come from an accomplice.

Judge John Pursel clearly feels the case against Gerard Richardson is now very weak, but he gave the prosecutor 30 days to convince him otherwise.

The judge asked the defense if Gerard Richardson would make a bail application, a clear indication he is troubled by the case, Aiello reported.

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