Lawyers for a man whose conviction in the 1980 killing of a Times-Picayune proofreader was tossed out earlier this month are urging a federal judge to release him without making him pay for a bond.

Exhibit A in their motion for the freedom of John Floyd is a sworn affidavit from none other than Burl Cain, the former longtime warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

Cain said in his statement that Floyd was one of “the most trustworthy” inmates he dealt with during his 21 years at Angola. Cain retired last year.

“If John was guilty, I would say he is completely rehabilitated and it serves no purpose him being in prison. Because I believe John is innocent, I think keeping him in prison any longer is a tragedy,” Cain said.

Floyd, 67, has been serving a life sentence in connection with the stabbing death of Times-Picayune employee William Hines in the French Quarter in 1980.

On May 8, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance said that fingerprint evidence withheld from his defense and the jury would have created doubt about his guilt at his trial.

Vance ordered that Floyd be released from the state prison within 120 days, unless he is tried in the case again.

With few witnesses remaining 37 years later, prosecutors likely would face an uphill battle in retrying Floyd.

The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office has said it will appeal Vance’s order vacating the conviction; in the meantime, it is seeking to block Floyd’s release from prison.

Floyd’s release would present “a significant risk” that he would flee because he has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison, Assistant District Attorney Donna Andrieu wrote in a court filing.

In a motion filed Tuesday, however, Floyd’s attorneys at the Innocence Project New Orleans said he should be released immediately.

“The presumption of release is appropriate in this case because Mr. Floyd has an exceptional record of conduct while he has been imprisoned,” lawyer Emily Maw wrote in her motion. “He was one of only seven highly trusted inmates selected by then Warden Cain to assist with rebuilding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.”

Floyd does not have the money to post a bond, according to the attorney.

Maw said that Floyd plans to go to either a farm near Lafayette or a re-entry program in New Orleans if he is released.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432