A 76-year-old Washington state man has been released from prison in Illinois after a prosecutor persuaded a judge that the man was wrongly convicted in 2012 of killing a schoolgirl six decades earlier.

Judge William Brady vacated the conviction of Jack McCullough Friday morning and ordered him to be freed.

McCullough left a jail near the courthouse Friday afternoon, smiling to reporters from the back seat of his stepdaughter's rental car.

Brady's order came in Sycamore, Illinois, where Maria Ridulph was playing in the snow in December 1957 when she was abducted. Her body was found five months later.

McCullough was convicted in Maria's death in 2012 and sentenced to life in prison.

DeKalb County State's Attorney Richard Schmack conducted a six-month review and concluded that McCullough couldn't possibly have killed Maria. Schmack found evidence to shore up McCullough's claim that he had been 35 miles away in Rockford, Illinois, when Maria was abducted.