PHILADELPHIA -- A Philadelphia man who has been incarcerated for nearly three decades was released from prison Thursday after prosecutors now say he was wrongfully convicted.
Eddie Ramirez, 47, has spent the last 27 years behind bars after he was convicted of killing Joyce Dennis, a laundromat employee who was found brutally beaten to death at work after a robbery in 1995.
The district attorney's office says Ramirez was convicted of a crime despite no physical evidence tying him to the case. After reviewing the case, prosecutors argued for all charges against Ramirez to be vacated, which a judge granted Thursday morning in front of a packed courtroom that broke out in cheers following the announcement.
"Oh my God, I feel my heart's going to come out and I feel I got my baby coming back home," said Maria Ramirez, Eddie's mom.
"I feel like I can breathe. I feel like I can breathe again. You know what our family went through? It's like holding your breath," said Sue Ramirez, his sister.
Ramirez has maintained his innocence for the last three decades. Most recently, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project took on the case.
"We knew we were innocent and we were gonna fight until it happened, until we brought him home," said Sue Ramirez.
The fight spanned decades until the district attorney's office agreed to review the case. What they found led Ramirez to argue his constitutional rights had been violated.
"We have a case where the murder weapon, an object that was used to wipe it and the actual fingernails of the murder victim all contain evidence that is DNA and that rules out this defendant," said District Attorney Larry Krasner.
Investigators also found undisclosed police notes and that all witness testimony had been recanted.
The witnesses in the cases alleged they were threatened by police into implicating Ramirez in the murder.
The DA's office said Paul Worrell, a detective involved in the investigation, has been known to court for a pattern of obtaining false confessions.
Prosecutors say that left them no choice but to ask a judge to vacate all charges. Still, Ramirez's family says more needs to be done.
"No. Justice is not served. Because my brother is just one of many. There's many wrongfully convicted men and women in prison and my brother served 27 years of his life for something he did not do," said Sue.
On the other side is the family of victim Joyce Dennis, who for nearly 30 years, believed their loved one's killer was behind bars. Prosecutors say the family understood the decision but didn't want to be in court.
"Our colleagues and our friends at the Philadelphia Police Department need to reopen this investigation and work on it," said Krasner.
Action News asked Philadelphia police if they plan on reopening the case; they have not responded.
Meanwhile, the family of Eddie Ramirez has big plans following his prison release.
"We're going to Disney World!" Sue exclaimed.
"He wants chicken cutlets... and that's what he's going to get," added Maria.