A Peoria man who spent nearly 20 years in prison for the alleged 1994 rape of a 16-year-old girl is now a free man.

The (Peoria) Journal Star reports Christopher Coleman on Thursday walked out of Peoria County Circuit Judge Steve Kouri's courtroom after State's Attorney Jerry Brady dropped all charges against him.

Coleman was convicted of armed robbery and aggravated criminal sexual assault in the crime and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Brady said problems with the evidence, including the death of an eyewitness as well as others recanting their testimony, convinced him it was in the best interest of justice to drop the charges.

Coleman's freedom comes six months after the Illinois Supreme Court overturned an appellate court ruling and ordered a new trial for Coleman.

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