Florida man who faced death penalty now free after charges dropped

Key witness recants her testimony

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A 31-year-old Florida man who faced two first-degree murder charges has been freed after the prosecution's key witness recanted her testimony.

Prosecutors then dropped the charges against Charles Edward Hixon Jr., and he was released from jail Sept. 27.

He told the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday that he is "innocent."

Hixon was accused in the 2018 killing of 58-year-old Cheryl Lee Casey and 35-year-old Kenneth Lee Shook. Detectives found Hixon's fingerprints in their pickup truck, and he had some of their possessions. He was arrested.

Hixon's friend Angela Thurman told a grand jury that she saw him pull the trigger. He was indicted on murder charges and prosecutors were seeking the death penalty. Until she changed her story in September.

She told lawyers that police coerced her into lying.