By The Associated Press

Friends and supporters of North Carolina man freed after spending more than half his life in prison for a murder he didn’t commit are holding a celebration.

Friends of Dontae Sharpe planned to gather the afternoon of Aug. 23 at Philippi Church of Christ in Greenville. Various advocacy groups are holding the event for the 44-year-old Sharpe, who was freed Aug. 23. 

Dontae Sharpe breathes the air outside the Pitt County Courthouse after a judge determined he could be set free, Aug. 22, 2019 in Greenville, N.C. Sharpe, a North Carolina man who maintained his innocence even as he served a life sentence for a murder he didn’t commit said he got his strength in prison from God and his mother. (Deborah Griffin/The Daily Reflector via AP)

Sharpe was serving a life sentence for the 1994 murder of 33-year-old George Radcliffe during a drug deal in Greenville. A judge ordered a new trial after an evidentiary hearing Aug. 22 in Pitt County Court. Prosecutors then said they wouldn’t pursue a retrial, and Sharpe was released.

The NAACP advocated for the release of Sharpe, who says he rejected lighter sentences that required him to admit guilt.