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A man convicted in the 1968 slaying of a New York City police officer walked out of state prison Tuesday a free man, though he faces tight parole supervision and the state's continued efforts to put him back behind bars.

Albert Victory left Attica state prison at 9:55 a.m., went briefly to his lawyer's office and was then driven by a friend to the Utica area, where he will reside.

New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir called Victory's release a "disgrace." Safir said he had to dispatch officers Tuesday to inform the elderly mother of late New York City Police Officer John Varecha that one of her son's killers was being let go.

Victory, 59, was convicted in 1970 along with another man of murdering Varecha and was sentenced to 25 years to life.

In January, a state parole board said Victory had earned his release after serving 25 years in prison. But in March, the board reversed itself and rescinded his parole, saying it had been unaware when granting him freedom that he had escaped in 1978 and spent three years on the lam before being caught.

Victory's lawyers countered that the board was well aware of his escape and that it rescinded his parole on flimsy grounds after Gov. George Pataki's office complained.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Mark Dadd ruled Dec. 15 that the board had indeed erred.

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