A panel of three judges has found two North Carolina men innocent of a murder to which they had once pleaded guilty.
The judges announced their decision Thursday in Asheville after nearly two weeks of testimony in the cases of Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxsin.
Both men had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Walter Bowman of Fairview at his home in 2000. They claimed they agreed to the pleas to avoid the possibility of getting the death penalty or spending life behind bars.
The case was referred to the judges by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission - the country's only state agency dedicated to investigating claims of innocence.
Before this, the commission had heard just three other cases.