CREST HILL, Ill. — A man who has claimed his innocence for 30 years in a Chicago murder case was released from prison Thursday afternoon.

A judge vacated Lee Harris’ conviction Thursday morning and in the afternoon, prosecutors said there’s not enough evidence to re-try the case.

Harris has proclaimed his innocence for all these years and was the subject of a WGN Investigates report that exposed serious questions about his conviction and the investigation that sent him to prison.

As he was released from prison, he was joined by his son, two of his best friends and his legal team.

“I’ve been unjustly convicted of a crime I had no part in,” Harris said at the time. “I trusted the wrong people and that’s what got me a 90 year prison sentence.”

Six years after WGN Investigates shared Harris’ story, and 33 years after he was branded a murderer and sentenced to prison, his release essentially confirms his claims.

“I got 90 years for killing somebody I have never seen, somebody I never seen a day in my life,” Harris said.

In 1989, Richard Zuley, a Chicago police detective, was part of a team trying to solve the Gold Coast murder of Dana Feitler, a young woman with a promising future. It was what’s known as a heater case. There was a murderer lurking amongst the mansions of one of Chicago’s toniest neighborhoods.

Zuley was on the case and the early theory was three African-American men grabbed Feitler and forced her to take money out of two ATMs before shooting her in a dark alley.

As pressure built to solve the murder, detectives turned to a friendly informant: Lee Harris.

“They would say, ‘Lee, listen, we’ve got to solve this,'” Harris said. “They’d say ‘Listen, if you can help us, it’s worth $20,000 and I’ll make sure you get it.’ Again, I’m talking to my friends. There’s no reason not to believe them.”

He was referring to Chicago police officers.

“They were at my wedding,” Harris said. “We’d go out and have drinks.”

Harris said the detectives fed him information and then put it in reports that were used to convict him.

There were discrepancies in other parts of the investigation, and other suspects were overlooked.

WGN’s Mark Suppelsa also walked the route detectives claimed Harris used the night of the murder. He said it took two minutes.

“Not even close,” Suppelsa said.

It found it couldn’t be done in a way that matched the police timeline.

When Suppelsa asked Zuley for a comment in 2017, he didn’t respond.

But as Harris begins a new life of freedom for the first time in three decades, the court record is much more clear.

“Never in a million years would I have thought this could happen to me,” Harris said. “It’s the craziest thing in my life.”

Zuley was also a key investigator in a 1990 murder that resulted in a wrongful conviction.

He’s now retired from the Chicago Police Department.

He did not return messages on Thursday.

Feitler was a college student and just starting her life here in Chicago at the time of the murder.

The family released the following statement on Thursday evening after Harris was released.

Thirty-four years ago, our daughter and sister Dana Feitler, a kind, hard-working and talented 24-year-old Chicagoan was randomly abducted from the lobby of her home and murdered.

A person with a long criminal record was arrested and confessed to the crime. He was convicted and sent to prison by a jury of his peers for what was to be the rest of his life. We have just been made aware two days ago of his release.

Not a day has gone by where the memory of Dana has not been present in our family’s lives. Since Dana’s death, more than 25,000 Chicagoans have been murdered, with 695 lives lost last year alone. At moments when the rights of victims are often forgotten, we stand with the tens of thousands of victims who have lost their lives and with the tens and tens of thousands of family members and friends of the victims who bear the sorrow of their deaths.

We will not forget and will continue to work to make our streets safe for law-abiding citizens. We are heartbroken that this epidemic of gun violence remains a horrific plague 34 years after we lost our beautiful Dana.

Please respect our privacy at this difficult time.

“I really feel bad for the Feitler family, really, I do,” Harris said Thursday. “Because for 33 years they have lied to them and told them they had a person who committed that crime and all the time, they knew they didn’t. My heart goes out to them.”