Thursday, April 21, 2011

The day I was freed from prison....

a story of Alan that makes up his day....

I was 22 years old when I was sent to prison for murdering my former girlfriend Jennifer Lockmiller. One problem: I didn’t do it. The only ones who believed me were my parents and my lawyers from the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University. They worked tirelessly on my behalf, and in 2008, after I had been in lockup for 13 years; they got the Illinois Supreme Court to hear my appeal.
                By all rights, I should have been excited. But I refused to let myself get carried away. What was the point? I’d already lost five challenges to my convictions. Five times I’d waited for a verdict, and five times I’d been sent back to my cell.
                But still, I was hopeful. I had to be. The prosecutors pinned their case on the fact that Jennifer and I had a sometimes volatile relationship. But I was never physically violent. As for motive, they insisted I was jealous of her other boyfriends, which truth be told. I was. But my lawyers had an ace up their sleeves – evidence left out of the first trial. Evidence that placed me 225 kilometers away at the time of the murder.
                On the morning of May 22, 2008, the judges were ready to render their decision. A prison guard let me out of my cell. As I walked down the hall, I was intercepted by my friend, Armando. He looked more nervous than me. “I can’t stand to hear you say you didn’t win,” he said. “So afterwards, if you win, when you see me, don’t say anything – just jump up and click your heels.”
                I went to a barren room at the Dixon Correctional Center. Inside was the warden. Minutes later, the verdict was in.
                I walked back towards my cell in a daze. Armando spotted me from the dayroom. He searched my face for a clue, but I just stared blankly ahead. Soon my pace quickened, until I was in a full sprint. I bent my knees slightly and sprang into the air. And after 13 years of abject hall…I clicked those heels!
                I’m currently suing five police officers and two prosecutors for conspiring to frame me. And because I wasn’t declared innocent, only not guilty, I’ve also filed a petition seeking a certificate of innocence from the State of Illinois. No matter how it winds up, they’ll never take away what happened on that day in May, the day I reclaimed my life. 

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