A Puerto Rican man who spent eight months in prison for the killing of a Canadian executive walked free Sunday, days after officials charged the murdered man's widow with having him killed.
Judge Abelardo Bermudez Torres set no conditions for Jonathan Roman Rivera's release on $1 US bail.
The Puerto Rican Justice Department had asked the court to release Roman on bail while it reinvestigates the slaying of real estate developer Adam Anhang, a Winnipeg native who moved to Puerto Rico a year before his 2005 slaying in Old San Juan.
Last week, a U.S. grand jury charged his widow, Aurea Vazquez Rijos, with offering a man $3 million to kill Anhang.
The FBI said it is hunting for Vazquez, who is believed to be abroad.
Anhang, 32, who had developed beach-front condominiums and hotels in Puerto Rico, was beaten and fatally stabbed on the night of Sept. 23, 2005, as he and his wife were walking in Old San Juan.
FBI investigators determined Roman was innocent and arrested another man, Alex Pabon Colon, on charges of killing Anhang, prosecutor Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said.
The two heavyset men could easily have been mistaken for one another, she added.
Roman, who had been held at a maximum-security prison in the southern city Ponce, did not speak to reporters.
But his visibly elated father, Alberto Roman, said his family never doubted Puerto Rican authorities had convicted the wrong man in October.
"We were always convinced of his innocence, never did we doubt it," he said outside the courtroom, where several of his son's supporters wore T-shirts emblazoned with his photograph.
Wednesday's grand jury indictment charges Vazquez and Pabon with conspiracy and use of an interstate facility — the telephone — in a murder-for-hire conspiracy. Each faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
According to the indictment, Vazquez offered Pabon money and lured Anhang to the tourist district the night of his death. The indictment said two other unidentified people were involved in the plot.