CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina man who spent more than 17 years in prison for the murder of a Taco Bell worker has been found not guilty.

An appeals court ordered the jury trial after overturning Gary Bennett’s conviction, citing defense attorney failures at his first trial.

Bennett walked out of the Horry County jail a free man Thursday.

Prosecutors say Bennett slashed Marie Martin’s throat. But his lawyers pointed out that Bennett’s DNA and fingerprints were not found at the crime scene; and that a cellmate’s claim of a confession was postmarked before they shared a cell.

Bennett had been serving life without parole before the appellate ruling.