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Man Released After Nearly 30 Years In Prison, New Trial Ordered

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GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) - A man who spent almost 30 years in prison for a crime he claims he didn't commit is getting a new trial.

A judge overturned John Kunco's rape conviction, and he got out of jail on $10,000 unsecured bond Wednesday evening after a delay because of a paperwork issue.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The day he was convicted in 1992, Kunco said, "I am an innocent man. I am an innocent man, and if it takes 100 years, I will prove I am innocent."

On Wednesday, a Westmoreland County judge agreed that Kunco's initial trial was seriously flawed, so he granted the 52-year-old man a new trial.

"The Commonwealth really needs to learn what they are doing before they put an innocent man in jail. Twenty-eight years and they still don't wanna let it go."

Those were the words of Kunco after finding out he will get a new trial after spending nearly three decades behind bars.

KDKA's Ross Guidotti Reports:

"Nothing about this conviction we thinking justified," Karen Thompson of the Innocence Project, which is representing Kunco, said. "Since day one we don't understand why the commonwealth has pursued Mr. Kunco like this, but none of the evidence fits this crime."

Initially convicted in the 1990 rape of a New Kensington woman, Kunco had his conviction vacated after Judge Christopher Feliciane determined the prosecution's case for not granting a new trial was, as he put it, fragile.

"The bite mark science is just completely illegitimate and we know that there was an alibi for where Mr. Kunco was," Thompson said. "There's just no proof."

Judge Feliciane told prosecutors bite mark evidence found on the victim isn't enough, and that the victim's voice identification is relevant but comes nowhere close to evidence of guilt.

"How do you get around the fact it wasn't his blood (at the scene)?" Judge Feliciane said.

Judge Feliciane went on to say that this was one of the most egregious assaults he's ever seen, and he's not taking the petition lightly. But, he's equally if not more outraged that a potentially innocent men has spent the last 30 years in jail."

The innocence project wants to also point out that the woman, who has since tied, was savagely assaulted, and in their opinion the person who committed the crime is still out there.

A new trial date is pending, and the commonwealth plans to appeal the judge's ruling.

KDKA's Brenda Waters' Report:

So where does Kunco go from here.

"They took everything away from me for no reason," he said. "Now i just gotta try to get it all back again."

Kunco's daughter, Loren, was 5 last time he saw her.

"There's just a lot of pain for that," Thompson said. "He didn't get to see his kid grow up - these are basic things every person should have and it took 6 attorneys 10 years to get him out and that says something about our justice system. It's just not just. "

"I've been following the Innocence Project probably since I was 14 so I see all the other people they've exonerated," Loren Kunco said. "It's amazing."

"We always knew it was going to happen," Tricia Kunco said. "We just never knew when."

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