A Black North Carolina man who once was on death row and then served more than 40 years in prison for a shopkeeper’s slaying in a failed robbery attempt was headed home Thursday.

Attorney Theresa Newman, co-director of the Duke Wrongful Convictions Clinic, said 81-year-old Charles Ray Finch was released Thursday from Greene Correctional Institution, according to the Grio. He was picked up by relatives and the clinic’s other co-director, attorney Jim Coleman, who took him to Wilson, Newman said.

Finch, dressed all in white and wearing sunglasses, left the prison in a wheelchair. U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle had ordered Finch’s release earlier Thursday. In January, an appeals court ruled that evidence casts doubt on Finch’s murder conviction.

Newman said Finch’s conviction was overturned and that prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether to retry him. The Wilson Times reports that Finch’s daughter, Kay Jones Bailey, said after the hearing on Thursday that she “knew the miracle was going to happen just didn’t know when. It’s been worth the wait. It’s been worth the fight.”

In 1976, Finch was sentenced to die, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The state Supreme Court reduced his sentence to life in prison after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state’s death penalty law was unconstitutional. In a recent interview, Finch told WNCN that he forgives the person who identified him as the killer “because he didn’t know what he was doing.” That person had said the killer was wearing a three-quarter-length jacket. Finch said a detective had him wear a coat in the police lineup — and Finch was the only one wearing a coat in that lineup.

“When I was picked up, they didn’t question me or nothing. They put me there in a lineup. And they put me in a lineup with a black leather coat on,” Finch said.

Coleman told WNCN that a highlight of the evidentiary hearing came “when we were able to expose that he (detective) had lied about the lineup and he had dressed Ray in a coat, and he was the only one wearing a coat in the lineup.”

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in January that it was unlikely that jurors would have convicted Finch if they had known about flaws in the police lineup and questions about key witness testimony.

The three-judge panel returned the case to federal district court for a fresh look at innocence claims that the lower court previously dismissed because of technical reasons including timeliness. Finch’s case was the first case handled by the Duke clinic.