LICKING, Mo. — After 19 years behind bars for a crime he says he didn’t commit, Keith Carnes walked out of prison a free man.

He was released from South Central Correctional Center in Licking, Missouri, south of Rolla, at 11:20 a.m. Monday, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

His release comes after the Missouri Supreme Court decided to overturn his murder conviction and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed charges against him Friday.

After reuniting with family Monday, Carnes traveled back to Kansas City and spoke with the media.

“I have a lot of grandkids I’ve never held before,” Carnes said.  “I’m happy, excited, grateful, blessed.  It’s just encouraging.  I’m just ready to live my life, part two, make my future better than my past.”

Carnes was sentenced to life in prison for the 2003 murder of 24-year-old Larry White.

A private investigator uncovered new evidence in Carnes’ case a few years ago. That evidence supported his claims of innocence. Lawyers also argued there is a lack of physical evidence tying him to the crime.

The attorney and investigator also discovered some of the court documents in the case were forged with Carnes’ signature. Two witnesses in the case have also recanted their statements since Carnes was convicted.

The Jackson County Prosecutor’s office said it met Friday with the family of Larry White, who thanked Jackson County for seeking justice on the family’s behalf.

Prosecutors said the case regarding White’s murder remains under investigation.

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