Anthony Wright, 44, was 20 years old when he was convicted in the death of 77-year-old Louise Talley in the Nicetown neighborhood.
Authorities found her naked body on the floor of her home in October 1991. Talley had been raped and stabbed 10 times with a kitchen knife in the back, chest and neck.
Wright was taken into custody the following day. He was serving a term of life without parole when new DNA testing showed another man had raped Talley.
Authorities inspected sperm found inside Talley's body and found none of Wright's DNA. It was Ronnie Byrd, a former crack addict from Nicetown, who assaulted her, tests showed in 2014.
Wright had initially told police he had taken money from Talley before killing her. He later took back his confession and said he had been coerced into giving it. The detectives, who have since retired, denied having pressured Wright to confess, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for less than two hours before declaring Wright not guilty on Tuesday.
Wright walked free a few hours later, surrounded by his relatives. His father, his 28-year-old son and his two granddaughters, 1 and 8 years old, witnessed his first moments as a free man.
'I can't even put it into words right now, man,' Wright told The Philadelphia Inquirer. 'It's unbelievable. It's the greatest day of my life.'
Wright's mother has died. His 63-year-old father plans to take Wright to Florida, where he lives, before Wright goes back to Philadelphia.
This is the 344th time someone in the United States is exonerated thanks to DNA evidence according to the Innocence Project, which led Wright's defense.