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Death row inmate is freed from prison after appeal court rules trial was riddled with errors 

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Death row inmate who was convicted of murdering jeweler is freed from prison after 30 years following appeal court ruling that his trial was riddled with errors

  • Paul Browning was sentenced to death for robbery and fatally stabbing a Las Vegas jeweler in 1985  
  • Browning served on death row for 33 years at Ely State Prison  
  • Judge dismissed Browning’s murder conviction citing a ‘fair trial is no longer possible’
  • At the time of Browning’s release, Nevada’s highest court was yet to rule on his fate 

Paul Browning, sentenced to death for a fatal stabbing in 1985, left prison today

Paul Browning, sentenced to death for a fatal stabbing in 1985, left prison today

A prisoner in Nevada has been released from behind bars after spending 33 years on death row for a 1985 murder.

Paul Browning’s path toward freedom started in 2017 when an opinion from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found ‘a mixture of disturbing prosecutorial misconduct and woefully inadequate assistance of counsel’ led to ‘extreme malfunctions’ at Browning’s 1986 murder trial. 

Browning was sentenced to death for fatally stabbing jeweler Hugo Elsen at his store in Las Vegas in November 1985. 

It took a jury only an hour to convict the then 30-year-old in 1986 and jurors sentenced him death after just two hours of deliberations.

He was released from the maximum security facility in Ely, Nevada, Wednesday.  

Ely State Prison in Nevada where Paul Browning served 33 years on death row before getting released

Ely State Prison in Nevada where Paul Browning served 33 years on death row before getting released

‘I’m OK,’ Browning told his 86-year-old mother Betty while holding an embrace after she traveled to the jail from North Carolina. Browning’s brother and sister-in-law were also there to support him.

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District Judge Douglas Herndon ruled four months ago that ‘a fair trial consistent with due process is no longer possible’ for Browning. 

Among the problems posed, Judge Herndon said the attorney who represented Browning failed to ask the essential questions of witnesses who are now dead, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.  

The judge dismissed Browning’s murder conviction, but prosecutors immediately asked to postpone that ruling in order to appeal the judge’s decision with the Nevada Supreme Court. 

Browning, 63, has maintained his innocence throughout the incarceration. 

Browning’s exit from prison comes despite the state’s high court yet to rule.  

New execution chamber at Ely State Prison in Nevada

New execution chamber at Ely State Prison in Nevada

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