Gerst and Frances Brewer were two of five white witnesses who identified him as the food market shooter. None of those witnesses said anything about a cast, but medical documents show that Lomax had part of his arm wrapped in a plaster cast at the time.
No other evidence was presented, and no police officer testified.
When she agreed to alter Lomax's sentence from life to life with all but time served suspended, Rasin said she was troubled by the lack of evidence and by the cross-racial identification - which she said studies have shown to be unreliable.
FOR THE RECORD - Two headlines in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly described the legal action taken by Baltimore Circuit Judge Gale E. Rasin in the case of Walter Lomax. The judge ordered that Lomax be released from unsupervised probation.
The Sun regrets the errors.
"There is a significant likelihood, definitely a possibility, that Mr. Lomax would be acquitted" if he were on trial today, Rasin said in December.
Yesterday, the judge reiterated those beliefs.
She said "dubious proof" led to his conviction, and that she had "residual doubt" about the case, a phrase she said is most synonymous with "haunting."
"The only thing I am convinced of is that Robert Brewer died too soon," Rasin said.
Only one person in the courtroom, she said, knew for certain if Lomax was indeed guilty - Lomax himself.
Later, Lomax said that "the most important people in the world to me, my family and my friends, have known for quite some time that I'm not guilty."
With the help of Centurion Ministries, Lomax fought for years to prove that he was wrongly convicted. He was represented by Ripke and Larry Nathans - the same lawyers who helped free Michael Austin, a Baltimore man whom Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. pardoned and said had been wrongly convicted.
When the judge scheduled a postconviction hearing in the Lomax case, prosecutors said they would not oppose his release. The agreement was for Lomax to retain his first-degree murder conviction but have his prison sentence modified from life to life suspending all but time served.
Any rational person who had spent that much time in prison, Rasin said yesterday, would have made the same decision as Lomax.
Lomax said the unsupervised probation was irrelevant to him. But his attorneys said probation is meant for people who need it. Lomax, Ripke said, does not.
"On a personal level," Ripke said after court, "having it closed now means more than the court will ever know. It's just about a feeling of closure."
When he addressed the court yesterday, Lomax read from Mary Oliver's poem "The Summer Day." Before she released him in December, Rasin had quoted to him the last line of the poem:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Lomax thrived in prison, educating himself and writing volumes of material that he said he plans to publish.
Since his release, he has received numerous citations and accolades from politicians ranging from Carl O. Snowden, director of civil rights for the attorney general, to House Speaker Michael E. Busch. He has spoken at anti-death penalty rallies and to a Towson University graduate class.
And he has continued writing. Rasin noted that as she ended probation for the man she called "unlike anyone else I have ever sentenced."
"He became the prisoner poet, then the probationer poet," she said of Lomax. "And now he will just be the poet."
Sun reporter Gadi Dechter contributed to this article.