As appeals court reviews evidence, many are hopeful Gov. Cooper will commute Ronnie Long’s rape sentence

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – People are hoping Gov. Roy Cooper will commute Ronnie Long’s sentence as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ponders over a mountain of evidence that shows police withheld that evidence and manipulated the investigation.

Faith leaders from across the state have written the governor asking for that to happen. More than a dozen legislators have done the same thing.

“Really excited and happy it’s really encouraging to have to finally have all the support for Ronnie,” said Long’s wife, AshLeigh.

Ronnie Long has been in prison 44 years. His rape conviction by an all-white jury led to massive protests outside the Cabarrus County Courthouse. People believed then that he was innocent and, decades later, the Duke Wrongful Convictions Clinic said they were right.

Part of the appeal includes the fact that none of the fingerprints nor hair samples at the scene matched Long.

“I think people are finally starting to believe that we’re not just saying that. No, these are actually facts that happened and have been proven,” AshLeigh said. She added that it’s partly due to other cases involving police that have gotten national attention.

AshLeigh is grateful for the letters to the governor and a petition with nearly 35,000 signatures. She would like to see even more people get on board.

“You know, I would like to see a lot higher numbers a lot quicker because I feel like he needs that amount of public outrage and pressure to really get him out,” she said.

As her husband awaits his potential release, AshLeigh said the support is helping him get to that day.

“I guess he’s overwhelmed with the amount of support he’s getting, in a good way. He’s just kind of like, ‘Wow.'”

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