BOSTON (WHDH) - A man who spent over 30 years in prison for a murder he did not commit is now getting a big payout from the state.

A jury awarded Fred Weichel $33 million following a civil lawsuit over his conviction in the 1980 murder of Braintree resident Robert LaMonica.

“I finally got a jury to say ‘Fred Weichel is absolutely innocent,'” Weichel said Tuesday night. “I always had hope, but, naturally, in the back of my mind, I never thought I would get out. But I never gave up hope, either.”

State law caps the total amount Weichel can be awarded at $1 million, though the 70-year-old said regardless of how much money is in his pocket, he was just happy to be free.

Tuesday’s announcement came five years after a judge overturned Weichel’s conviction in 2017 after a police report surfaced suggesting that someone else could have committed the murder for mob boss, Whitey Bulger.

According to the New England Innocence Project, a police report assembled a week after LaMonica’s death had information from multiple correctional officers who said a composite sketch of the alleged murderer did not resemble Weichel, but another man. There was also never any physical evidence tying him to the crime.

Some of the evidence used to get a new trial for Weichel hinged on a letter sent to his mother in March 1982. In it, Weichel’s friend, Thomas Barrett, appeared to confess to the crime, while stating that Weichel was not involved.

In his civil trial, Weichel testified that Bulger threated to kill him and his family if he revealed another man as a suspect in the murder.

Among those who took the stand during the civil suit was Bulger’s former right-hand man, Kevin Weeks. During the suit, Weeks provided an alibi for Weichel the night of the killing.

Additional testimony also focused on claims that Bulger protected LaMonica’s true killer.

Weichel’s attorney said he suffered immensely during the 36 years in which he was wrongly imprisoned, both physically and emotionally.

Weichel himself said his years in prison took their toll, including missing the passing of his mother, who died before his exoneration.

“It’s heartbreaking when you can’t go to your own mother’s wake,” Weichel said. “That was devastating. My mother was my world.”

In addition to the award capped at $1 million, Weichel may also be able to collect additional compensation for lawyer fees and various other costs.

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