PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A 44 year-old man, sentenced to 70 years in prison for murder is out of jail after making bail.
Thursday evening, family and friends of Anthony Sanborn greeted him with hugs as he walked out of the Cumberland County Jail. He doesn't have to go back to prison, at least for now.
Bail was set for Sanborn, convicted of a brutal murder in Portland in 1989, earlier that day.
The ruling came after a hearing that included stunning developments, a recanted statement from a star witness and plenty of courtroom drama. All surrounding a man who spent nearly three decades in prison.
Sanborn, was ordered to be released from prison on $25,000 bail. He was convicted of the 1989 murder of Jessica Briggs. Both were 16 at the time.
It began with a highly unusual scene, as a packed courtroom erupted in cheers when convicted murderer Anthony Sanborn entered. Sanborn was overcome with emotion by the show of support. He has always maintained his innocence in the murder of Jessica Briggs. His road to freedom was paved by the woman who helped convict him all those years ago, when she took the stand and testified she lied back then.
"Did you witness a murder down at the pier at the Casco Bay Lines here in Portland, Maine?", defense attorney Amy Fairfield asked.
"No", responded Hope Cady.
"You did not?" asked Fairfield.
"No", Cady responded again.
Hope Cady was just 13-years old when she was put on the stand as the state’s star witness in 1992. She now says she was coerced by police detectives and threatened by them.
"if you have regrets why didn't you say something from 1992 until now?", asked prosecutor Donald Maccomber.
"I was scared", said Cady.
"Scared of who?" asked Maccomber.
"Those detectives”, said Cady.
Prosecutor Maccomber handed the judge signed affidavits by the detectives denying the allegations. He asked the judge not to decide the bail issue until they have a chance to defend themselves on the stand. But the judge also heard this impassioned plea by Sanborn’s attorney.
"That is the state's case, Hope Cady. That's it. To keep this man in jail for one second longer just perpetuates this miscarriage of justice", said Fairfield.
The judge agreed, set bail at $25,000 and Tony Sanborn left the courtroom the way he entered, to cheers.
"How are you feeling Anthony?, I asked.
"Excellent, justice", he said.
Sanborn’s wife of five years and his mother expressed their relief outside the courthouse.
"I just think Justice Wheeler for being a woman of compassion and for doing the right thing and giving me faith in our system", said wife Michelle Sanborn
“All I could say was just prayers every night that he’d come home and he's finally made it. He's finally getting home. I think justice has been done”, said his mother Helen Sanborn.
Anthony Sanborn still has a way to go for complete freedom. The hearing will continue at the end of the month when those two detectives could testify. The judge must also rule on whether or not to vacate his conviction and if that happens, the state must decide if there will be a retrial.
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