HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) – A man charged with killing his wife in Hopewell, more than four decades ago, is going free.
In court Wednesday afternoon, a judge granted a request from prosecutors to withdraw a first degree murder charge against 77-year-old Donald Long.
The Commonwealth's Attorney, Rick Newman says he's unable at this time to prove that Long is guilty of murder -- due to a number of setbacks that compromised the case.
Newman called the case an "uphill battle from the beginning." In a statement he goes on to say, the case was compromised when "physical evidence was determined to be contaminated by a member of the Hopewell Police Department."
Although Long's wife was hoping the case would be dismissed she's satisfied with the outcome.
"I'm very happy he's coming home and his friends and family will be happy," said Beverly Long.
Prosecutors contend that in 1964 -- Long strangled his wife, Naomi, inside an apartment at the City Point Inn.
In July of last year, one of Long's ex-wives told authorities that he threatened to kill her and confessed to Naomi's murder. Last month, a judge ruled the statement would not be admissible in court -- serving as another blow to prosecutors.
The brother of the murder victim says he was hoping for closure.
Butch Fulcher: "It's a shame all of this came about and really accomplished nothing."
Nicole Bell: "Are you confident someone will be found responsible for the murder of your sister?"
Butch Fulcher: "I'm confident someone killed her but I'm not sure if anyone will ever come to justice."
Prosecutors can bring back the charge against Long if new evidence surfaces. For now, Long's family says they're looking forward to getting back to a normal life.
Long is expected to be released from Riverside Regional Jail by the end of today. His wife says they will head home to Las Vegas on Friday. Long was extradited from Las Vegas to Hopewell. He's been behind bars for five months.