Man sentenced to death twice for murder of Gary cop to be freed

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - A man who was sentenced to death twice for the murder of a Gary police officer will soon be a free man.

Despite spending three decades in prison, he still claims he is innocent.

Zolo Azania is set to be released from an Indiana prison on Monday. Back in 1981, he was known as Rufus Lee Averhart, a bank robber who shot and killed the man who stood between him and $91-thousand dollars in a heist.

Now, the family of murdered Gary police lieutenant George Yaros is preparing for his release.

The family of the lieutenant told the Sun Times they're not sure how they would react seeing his convicted killer on the street.

Zolo Azania escaped the death penalty twice thanks to the Indiana Supreme Court.

In an interview with the Sun Times, Yaros' son recalls his father's last words to him.

"He said you take care of Lavonne. He said the most important thing in your life is your family and that baby. That's the last thing he ever told me,” said Tim Yaros.

Azania denies killing the lieutenant, only saying he was an accomplice. But according to the Sun Times, authorities said witnesses identified Azania as the man in the blue suit who they saw kill Yaros.

"I'm not trying to absolve myself in this situation and I'm not trying to point the finger at anyone else. I just accept my own responsibility. I cannot change what has happened. The best thing I can do is pull my life together and move forward and try to do something to give back,” Azania said.

Yaros' surviving family is reportedly not convinced.

"I'm not going to feel sorry for your life. You took, you took the foundation of our family. He was our rock, he kept us together,” said Yaros.

Azania says people shouldn't be worried about him hurting anyone else. He says that is all behind him now. He plans on getting an apartment in Gary and wants to do prison support work.

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