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Man Accused of Sholanda Poole's Murder Finally Feels Free

11:51 PM, Jan 9, 2014   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Melvin Bennett spent nearly 1,000 days in jail for a crime he did not commit.

He was accused of the brutal rape and killing of 7-year-old Sholanda Poole. 

A jury found him not guilty.

Twenty-one years after his release,  Bennett talked to WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower because now, the finger is finally pointed toward someone else.

READ: Police Make Arrest in 1990 Murder of 7-Year-Old Shalonda Poole

"I've been waiting on it a long time you know," explained Melvin Bennett."I had to go through it. You got be... strong."

Bennett spent two years in jail - charged with the killing of 7-year-old Sholanda Poole.

The little girl was tortured and police blamed Melvin.

"Two years of his life and not only that, to worry after twenty-something years, you know the sting of that, having that over your head," explained Thomas Campbell, Melvin's cousin.

A jury found Melvin not Guilty in 1992.

DNA found on Sholanda did not belong to him but now police say forensic technology links Donald Preston Ferguson to the crime.

READ: Murder Suspect Is No Stranger to Shalonda Poole's Family

"It gives me relief," said Bennett.

It's the vindication Bennett hoped for, and the justice Shalonda's mother prayed her daughter would get.

"I'm glad they found the right one," said Marilyn Poole, Shalonda's mother."Now we all can rest in peace. The one that was arrested, now he can stop looking over his shoulder thinking something is going to happen to him for something he didn't do."

Donald Preston Ferguson was arrested in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He'll soon transfer to the Guilford County jail to await trial.

WFMY News 2

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