MANATEE -- Andre Bryant, convicted of robbing the wife of a Manatee County sheriff's deputy at gunpoint at a Bradenton pharmacy in 2006, was released from prison Thursday afternoon after his conviction was set aside.
On Wednesday, State Attorney Ed Brodsky announced, after reviewing new and original evidence in the case against Bryant, there was enough reasonable doubt to toss his conviction. He was not making a finding of innocence, however, he added.
Paperwork filed in court Thursday made it official.
Bryant was released hours after the Department of Corrections received the court records.
"This is a great day for Andre, and this outcome is a testament to his consistent belief that the truth of his innocence would eventually be known and lead to his freedom," said Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida and one of Bryant's attorneys, in a statement. "Everyone at IPF is so pleased to reunite him with his family after this ordeal and are excited to work with him to ease his transition from wrongful incarceration back into free society."
Bryant, 27, served more than seven years of a 30-year sentence for armed robbery, but always maintained his innocence.
In June 2007, a jury found him guilty of approaching the open, passenger window of Lori Cline's car at a Walgreen's drive-thru on Manatee Avenue West and holding a gun against her 14-year-old son's head. Cline's 11-year-old daughter and her 10-year-old friend were in the back seat at the time.
Bryant, already on probation for drug charges, was identified by the victims as the robber and soon arrested.
While there had been enough evidence at trial for a conviction, Brodsky said in his statement, re-examination of original evidence and some new evidence called Bryant's guilt into question.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.