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For almost 35 years Joyce Watkins insisted she never harmed her 4-year-old great-niece — who died, according to jurors who found Watkins and her boyfriend guilty, as a victim of murder and aggravated rape.

This month a judge agreed with Watkins, exonerating her and Charlie Dunn of the crimes that caused both to be locked away in prison for 27 years.

“I’m just happy to be out of this mess, which has cost me half of my life for nothing,” Watkins, now 74, said after the charges were dismissed, according to a news release from the Tennessee Innocence Project. “But I’ll get over it. I thank God for me being able to do this.”

Dunn, who also never wavered in his innocence, died in prison. Read more.

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