A North Carolina man who spent nearly 40 years incarcerated for murder was freed Friday after a panel of judges found him innocent.Joseph Sledge, 70, walked out of the Columbus County jail to greet his family, before heading home to Savannah, Georgia.Sledge’s case was recommended for review by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, a state panel that looks into possible wrongful convictions. New evidence had cast doubt on whether Sledge killed Josephine and Ailene Davis, and mother and her adult daughter in 1976.District Attorney Jon David said in court Friday there was "substantial evidence" that Sledge was wrongfully convicted, and apologized to Sledge."There's nothing worse for a prosecutor than convicting an innocent person," David said."I'm very, very sorry for your loss," Sledge told the family of the victims during a court appearance Friday, according to local news station WRAL. "I hope you get closure in this matter."But a member of the Davis family said they were “heartbroken” that Sledge would go free.A day before the women were stabbed to death, Sledge had escaped from a prison work farm. Two fellow prisoners said Sledge had confessed to the murders.