DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Two brothers who spent a quarter-century behind bars for a murder they say they didn’t commit walked out of a Detroit courthouse as free men.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Lawrence Talon formally dismissed the murder charges against Raymond and Thomas Highers on Thursday, a day after Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced she wouldn’t be retrying the men for the 1987 shotgun slaying of 65-year-old marijuana dealer Robert Karey.

The Highers brothers, who were sentenced to life in 1988, spent 25 years in prison.  Last year, their convictions were tossed out and they were freed on bond after new witness testimony suggested they may have been misidentified.

A new trial scheduled for next month, but, while she’s not happy about it, Worthy said the case simply cannot be reassembled.

Assistant Prosecutor Mike Reynolds told Judge that the prosecution was seeking to drop the charges because witnesses have been dying and memories are fading.

Talon says this is still a murky case.

“There are probably many people who feel that it’s unfortunate that this case will not proceed to trial,” Talon said. “Because I’ve seen from the advocacy from all the lawyers in this case that the defendants are as fiercely confident of an acquittal as the prosecutor is of a conviction.”

The Higher Brothers could be brought back to trial if new evidence is found.

While incarcerated, said Thomas Highers, he and his brother never gave up hope. “Knowing, you know, that you’re here wrongfully … our day has to come. I mean, that’s what I always thought: It has to come,” he said in an interview with WWJ’s Sandra McNeil.

Thomas Highers said he and his brother have no plans at this time to file a civil suit.

[Catch up on this case]

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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