SACO — Raymond Wood is free to go for a walk, change the channel on his television set and start mourning the death of his girlfriend, Bessie Selek, the woman he was accused of murdering a year ago.

“I really haven’t had the chance to really deal with it, ” Wood said Wednesday, less than 24 hours after his release from jail. “My whole life has been a jumble around this case; I’m letting the emotions come on slowly. . . . The most important person in my life has been taken away from me.”

Witnesses said Selek, 41, was hit and killed by a truck or a sport-utility vehicle while she was walking along a dark stretch of Route 202 near her home in Waterboro on April 20, 1999. Wood’s defenders say it was a hit-and-run accident, but Selek’s family and others still believe it was Wood behind the wheel.

“I’m not happy, ” said Selek’s mother, Helen Caron of Chicopee, Mass. “How can you let out a man after he has done something like this? He was where he belonged.”

This week prosecutors dropped the case against Wood, 38, saying they had too little evidence to prove his guilt. Last month, Superior Court Justice Robert E. Crowley threw out incriminating statements that Wood made when he was interrogated by Maine State Police detectives.

In a strongly worded ruling, Crowley said Wood’s statements were not given voluntarily and that the detectives had browbeaten Wood into confessing. The interrogation, Crowley said, was fundamentally unfair.

Sgt. Matthew Stewart, who supervised the two detectives who questioned Wood, said the case is still open and that new charges could be brought against Wood if more evidence is developed.

Wood, interviewed at his lawyer’s office, said that by focusing on him, police and prosecutors have let the guilty person go free. He is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the killer’s arrest.

Wood said he and Selek moved to Maine in 1994 because they thought they would be safe here. The couple lived in Providence, R.I., where Wood managed a jewelry shop. One day he saw someone shot in the street. A few weeks later, Selek was mugged.

Their relationship was often troubled. Wood twice received a summons for domestic violence assault. Selek also accused him of abuse when she revoked the bail she had posted for him, and she once applied for a protection order, which was never granted because she did not follow through.

Selek also was cited for assaulting Wood, and she was twice charged with filing a false public alarm after making accusations of abuse against Wood.

Wood denies that he ever hit Selek. He said she was an alcoholic who would drink until she blacked out. Selek had been battered by a former husband, and when she was drinking she sometimes accused Wood of abuse. “When she blacked out, I became her ex-husband, ” Wood said. “I have never hit a woman in my life.”

On April 20, 1999, Wood came home early from his job at Chem-Clean, a furniture refinishing shop in Alfred. About 4 p.m. a friend dropped Selek at her house. Wood said Selek started drinking beer and the two argued about a $169 electric bill. “I kept telling her don’t worry about it. … She kept drinking and she was getting over the edge.”

Wood said he left the house in frustration and went back to work, where he spent the night. At 11:30 the next morning York County Chief Deputy Maurice Ouellette came to the shop and told him he was under arrest for an unrelated charge.

Ouellette took him to an interview room and asked him questions about his girlfriend. About an hour into the questioning, Wood asked why he was being questioned about Selek. The officer screamed that she was dead.

“It wasn’t put to me lightly. I was destroyed, ” Wood said. “It was emotional confusion. . . . They just kept pounding me with questions.”

Ouellette said he caught Wood in several lies. Wood said at first that he had been home all night, and then finally admitted that the two were fighting when he left the house. Given the couple’s history, Ouellette was convinced he found the killer.

Two state police detectives were called and began questioning Wood. They took turns being friendly and tough. They told him they had proof that the van he was driving had killed Selek, which was not true. They removed a table Wood was sitting behind and pulled their chairs next to his.

“They told me they had positive DNA proof. They told me they had eyewitnesses, ” Wood said. “I was in tears, I was broken down. They convinced me I was involved.”

Wood said he was frightened. “When you have two cops weighing well over 200 pounds, 6-3, 6-4, standing over you with guns, I was a little intimidated. . . . I was told, ‘Tell us what we want to hear or else.’ I was told, ‘Tell us it was an accident and we’ll get out of your hair.’ ”

Ten years earlier, Wood suffered a skull fracture in a motorcycle accident. Wood said the detectives convinced him he could have run Selek over and not remembered it.

Joseph Wrobleski was appointed to defend Wood when he made his first appearance in court two days after Selek’s death. Wrobleski saw holes in the evidence.

Witnesses described a dark-colored SUV with a broken headlight, not the copper-colored van with two working lights that Wood drove. Fragments of a plastic grill found around the body did not come from the Chem-Clean van, and there was a 40-foot skid mark near the body, indicating that whoever hit her was trying to stop.

Six months later, the state’s DNA tests could not positively identify blood and tissue found on the van as human, let alone Selek’s.

All that was left of the state’s case were Wood’s statements, which Wrobleski was able to persuade a judge to disallow. Prosecutors had to drop the charges.

Wood said he is not sure what he will do now, but he would like to stay in Maine. “Bessie and I had some dreams together, and I still feel obligated to them, ” he said. “In some ways she is still with me.”