Thomas Lee Goldstein, wrongfully imprisoned for murder for 24 years, was freed Friday by a Long Beach Superior Court judge after the Los Angeles County district attorney's office finally conceded it had no case against him.

"I'm nervous and anxious and uncertain about the future, but I am glad to be out," Goldstein, a 55-year-old former Marine, said outside the Long Beach courthouse moments after his release.

A native of Kansas, Goldstein has always maintained his innocence in the November 1979 shotgun slaying of John McGinest on a Long Beach street. He had been living in a garage in a neighborhood near the scene of the murder and attending Long Beach City College.

He was convicted on the basis of testimony from a jailhouse informant and an eyewitness who later recanted.

In recent years, five federal judges agreed that Goldstein's constitutional rights had been violated by the district attorney's office during his 1980 trial.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge James B. Pierce ordered Goldstein released after a prosecutor told the judge that the district attorney's office was unable to retry him.

Earlier this week, Pierce dealt a critical blow to prosecutors' case when he ruled that they could not present testimony from Loran Campbell, the eyewitness who recanted his testimony in 2002 and died last year.

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