US woman freed after 32 years in jail over killing

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A 74-year-old American woman who spent 32 years in jail for a killing she says she did not commit was freed on Tuesday, a court said.

Her freedom stems largely from the work of a group of law students.

Mary Virginia Jones was convicted in 1981 of homicide, kidnapping and robbery.

On Monday, Judge William Ryan of the Los Angeles Superior Court overturned her conviction and ordered her freed.

Jones had been accused of acting as an accomplice in the killing of a drug dealer by her then companion, Mose Willis.

But law students from the University of Southern California, who defended Jones before the court, argued that Willis held a gun to her head to force her to lead the dealer into an alley where he was shot dead.

Willis was arrested and sentenced to death. He died on death row while awaiting execution.

Jones met Willis while he was homeless. He had promised he wanted to clean his life up.

But a week before the killing, Willis had shot at a daughter of Jones, Denitra, and threatened to kill both women if they went to the police.

"I did not willingly participate in this crime," Jones told the court.

Denitra said: "Words cannot express the way I feel" "It's surreal... this is a day we've been waiting for all our lives."