Delaware County man released from prison after 41 years due to newly discovered evidence

A Delaware County man is going home after spending more than four decades in prison. Leroy Evans emerged from the Delaware County Court House to deafening cheers of his supporters and the warm embrace of his wife.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro made the announcement Friday about his office's Conviction Integrity Section's relief of Leroy Evans. 

It was November of 1980 when Emily Leo, selling Avon products, was bludgeoned to death in Chester. Evans, 64, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Leo in 1981. According to the AG's Office, the primary evidence against him was the testimony of co-defendant Anthony Jones. 

Shapiro says over the past 40 years, Jones' testimony has been proven unreliable based on inconsistent recounts of events and several attempts to recant his original testimony about Evans' involvement.

"FOX 29’s Jeff Cole asked, "Did you think this day was going to come?"

"I was hoping. I always believed in God," Evans replied.

"What were your thoughts when the judge approved this?" Cole asked.

"Blessed. It’s been 42 years of waiting," Evans answered.

In 2016, speaking with attorney Michael Malloy, working to free Evans, Jones admitted he'd slain Leo.

Malloy and local activists worked to free Evans, working alongside Shapiro's office.

A Friday morning court hearing is when it happened.

"What are your thoughts about having to serve such a long time for something you didn't do?" Cole asked.

"You know, sometimes things like this happen. But, you got to keep God and faith," replied Evans.

Evans hugged family members and held great-grandchildren born years after he'd gone to prison.

His wife recounted her struggle. "It's been up and down. I've had tough times. Lots of pain. But, to keep going, I had to stay strong for him," Rosemary Simmons said.

Attorney Michael Malloy remarked, "He's been a gift to me. He's remarkable. He's never been angry." 

"This is a powerful reminder of the importance of ensuring justice for all Pennsylvanians," Shapiro said. "For our justice system to function properly, it is critical that convictions are based on facts. Throughout my team's review of this case, we found that reliance on the co-defendant's testimony, that was shown to lack reliability over time, led to Mr. Evans' first degree murder conviction."

Evans says one of his first acts will be to visit his mother's grave.

Cole asked him, "How will you live the rest of your life?"

Evans answered, "Joyful with family and friends."

Evans did plead to lesser charges, in court Friday, that were involved in the case. His penalty will be time served.