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“You can take the handcuffs off,” Superior Court Judge Richard Damiani said. And with that, a man who has been in jail for 21 years—and was supposed to spend decades more behind bars—walked away a free man.

DNA set him free.

The dramatic release took place Wednesday morning in Connecticut Superior Court on Church Street.

Kenneth Ireland went to jail in 1988, at the age of 20, convicted of raping and killing a woman named Barbara Pelkey of Wallingford. The sentence: 50 years.

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