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Judge keeps 1976 rape conviction of Ronnie Wallace Long

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The parents of Ronnie Wallace Long leave the Cabarrus County Courthouse on Friday after a judge declined to overturn their son's 1976 rape conviction. A judge ruled Friday that a Concord man convicted of rape 33 years ago will remain in prison but could be released within a few years. The 1976 trial of Ronnie Wallace Long was a racially-charged case that brought protesters to downtown Concord. The defendant was black. The victim and the jurors that convicted him were white. Supporters of Ronnie Wallace Long say he was wrongly convicted because tests that failed to connect him to the scene of the crime were never turned over to his defense attorneys. The judge ruled that there's not enough evidence to warrant a new trial. But he did ask the state to re-define Long's lifetime sentence so that he could be free in 1 to 4 years. Aaron Pharr, a lifelong friend of Long, enlisted the help of the Innocence Project to push for a new trial. He says the justice system let Long down yet again. "If he were to have taken the evidence into account that he would certainly have merited a new trial. I don't know what could have convinced him to not at the least given the benefit of the doubt to a man who's served more than 30 years in prison," says Pharr. Following the judge's decision, the Cabarrus County District Attorney said justice was served once again. Long's attorneys say they will appeal the ruling.