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Benjamine Spencer released Friday after judge grants bond

He was released after spending more than three decades in prison. Earlier this week, the Dallas County DA's office recommended vacating his sentence.

DALLAS — Updated at 8:50 p.m. with information from Spencer.

More than three decades after he was first sent to prison, Benjamine Spencer is headed home.

Judge Lela Lawrence Mays granted bond to Spencer on Friday, two days after The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office recommended Spencer's 1988 aggravated robbery conviction be vacated. 

Spencer was released to his family around 5 p.m. on a personal recognizance bond, which means he will not be required to post money.

He will be restricted under the bond release, including being limited in where he can travel, not being allowed to drink or have a firearm, and will have to check in with the court every 30 days, Judge Mays said.

Mays said she hoped to hold the hearing early enough for the paperwork to be processed so Spencer could go free on Friday.

The state said it did not oppose bond in the hearing.

RELATED: Judge declines to sign order to free Benjamine Spencer as DA's office, family and friends ask for release

More than 150 family, friends, and activists showed up outside Lew Sterrett Jail to witness Spencer's release. As soon as he walked out of the doors, he hugged his mother Lucille. 

"I'm thankful to finally have made it to this point in my life and I can't thank you enough for helping me," Spencer said.

Spencer tried to make a quick exit to an awaiting car but was bombarded by the dozens of people who came to see him. They all wanted to take pictures with him.

"I'm looking forward to reconnect with my family," he said. Spencer told the group that he also looks forward to a steak dinner on Friday night.

Spencer had been in prison since 1988 for the robbery and murder of Jeffery Young. He was first convicted of murder in 1987 and got a 35-year prison sentence. That case was overturned and the court granted him a new trial.

In the second trial, he was convicted of robbery and sentenced to life.

But, the Dallas County DA's Office has been looking into the case for years after they learned the key eyewitness in the case lied about seeing Spencer the night of the murder. 

The prosecutor at the time also never told Spencer's attorney the eyewitness got reward money. Not disclosing that is a violation of the Brady Law that requires prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence that can help a defendant at trial.

Mays agreed, overturning the case on Friday, but hadn't yet signed the order to release him.

Spencer's mother Lucille said earlier this week she's still in disbelief it has taken more than 34 years to see him free. Spencer entered prison when he was 22 years old. He's now 56.

The Court of Criminal Appeals has to review the findings and rule on them. That could take months. 

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