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In this May 17, 2016 file photo, John Nolley smiles as he leaves the courtroom following his release from custody, at the 213th District Court, in Fort Worth, Texas. A Texas judge has signed an order that exonerates a man who spent 19 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of murder. The ruling Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, by state District Judge Louis Sturns in Fort Worth Nolley now is declared innocent in the 1996 slaying of Sharon McLane. The ruling makes Nolley eligible for state compensation. (Photo: Paul Moseley/Star-Telegram via AP)

John Nolley Jr. was labeled a murderer for 20 years — until Wednesday. 

The 44-year-old husband and father of four was declared innocent in a Tarrant County courtroom Wednesday.

"I've been waiting on this day for so long," Nolley said as he walked out of the courtroom.

Nolley was released from prison in May 2016 after the Tarrant County district attorney's office said he had been wrongfully convicted. And in May, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Nolley's 1998 murder conviction. 

But his name wasn't cleared until Wednesday when District Attorney Sharen Wilson said Nolley did not murder Sharon McLane in 1996.

Nolley was friends with McLane but had maintained he didn't kill her for the 18 years he spent in prison.

She was found stabbed to death in her Bedford apartment in December 1996. Nolley was arrested in August 1997 and convicted the next year.

That conviction was largely based on the testimony of a jailhouse informant who claimed Nolley had confessed to the murder. But that informant lied.

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