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Judges Rule Convicted Men Are Innocent Of Murder

A panel of judges in North Carolina has found two people innocent of murders for which they pleaded guilty. North Carolina has now cleared three people of murders through the state's four-year-old Innocence Inquiry Commission. The three-judge panel was unanimous in Thursday's ruling that Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxsin did not shoot and kill a man in his Buncombe County home near Asheville 11 years ago. They say they only pleaded guilty to the crime to avoid a life sentence or the death penalty. Their case was referred to the judges last spring after the Inquiry Commission determined there was strong evidence of their innocence. New evidence includes DNA of another man that was found near the crime scene. The DNA of Kagonyera and Wilcoxsin was not found near the scene. Both testified that they relented to pressure from law enforcement and their own defense attorneys to get the best deal possible. The man whose DNA was identified maintains his innocence. The Inquiry Commission is the nation's only state agency dedicated to investigating claims of innocence. The Commission has now reviewed five cases and recommend three for judicial review. In 2010, Greg Taylor was the first to be exonerated as a result of the commission. He was cleared of a Raleigh murder for which he served 17 years in prison. He always maintained his innocence.