NC man released from prison after 44 years now seeks pardon from Gov. Roy Cooper

CONCORD, N.C. (WTVD) -- A North Carolina man wrongly convicted of rape is now fighting for a pardon from Gov. Roy Cooper.

"I feel as though I've been cheated," Ronnie Long told ABC affiliate WSOC. "I feel as though I've been cheated out of life itself."

Long went to prison in 1976. He spent decades fighting for his prison release, which he received in August.

Forensic evidence and DNA eventually exonerated Long. Courts have vacated his conviction and the state has dropped all charges.

However, without the pardon, Long is ineligible for compensation from the state. With the pardon, Long could be owed up to $750,000 for compensation for the time he was wrongfully imprisoned.

"I'm not asking for much," Long said. "The only thing I'm asking for is what's due to me, and I'd like to live the remaining days I have on this earth, at least comfortable."

Long is now looking for employment, while hoping Cooper will approve his pardon.

According to Long's attorney, Jamie Lau, Cooper has not granted a single person clemency during his first term in office. If he does not act before Dec. 31, he would be the first governor in more than 40 years to not do so.

Statement from Governor's Office:

"Decisions on pardons in criminal cases are among the most serious issues a governor can consider, and the clemency office and attorneys carefully review such requests. The governor expects to share an update on pardon requests in coming weeks."
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