NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Wednesday morning, charges were dropped in a case that involved two wrongfully convicted Middle Tennesseans.

Over 30 years ago, Joyce Watkins and her late boyfriend Charlie Dunn were wrongfully convicted of child rape and murder, but on Wednesday, Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton exonerated both.

Back in 1987, Watkins’ four-year-old great-niece was staying with family. When Watkins and her boyfriend went to pick the child up, they noticed signs of physical and sexual trauma. Watkins took her to the hospital, where the little girl was put on life support and died the next day.

Both Watkins and Dunn spent decades in prison following the conviction but always maintained their innocence.

After Wednesday’s exoneration, Watkins left the courtroom grateful for those who supported her along the way.

“I’d like to thank all people for their prayers and just helping me to get out of this mess, which has caused me half of my life for nothing,” she said.

The Tennessee Innocence Project claimed the science was wrong at the time and should have been reviewed more carefully.