Wrongful conviction overturned, surreal experience begins

February 24, 2011 8:18:33 PM PST
It has been a strange couple of weeks for a Bay Area man who was just released after 18 years in prison. He was wrongly convicted of murder. Now life on the outside after all of this time is a relief and a challenge.

Caramad Conley was only 22 when he was convicted of a double murder. He is now 41 years old and a lot has changed in those 18 years when Conley was in prison.

On Jan. 27, after spending 18 years in prison, Conley suddenly found himself a free man. A judge had overturned his conviction after learning the prosecution failed to reveal that the key witness received money from lead investigator and future Police Chief Earl Sanders.

Conley still has a hard time describing his euphoria when he was told he could go home.

"I would actually wake up in that small cell and look at the walls and just be like, wow... this is it. So, when that moment came it was surreal," said Conley. "You can't really describe it."

Conley was 22 when he was convicted of a high profile drive-by shooting in 1989 that killed two people in the Bayview and sentenced to life without parole. He served his time in nine prisons -- all maximum security.

"It's like when you know you're innocent of something and you're subjected to something like that, you know, it's like being buried alive," he said. "I would have to say that I had lots of moments of depression in there."

Conley read self help books and took up meditation.

"And just tried to remain hopeful too," he said. "You can't do nothing without being hopeful."

Now a free man, Conley is taking it slow, one day at a time. The adjustment to life outside has been difficult.

"Technology is one of them. I mean, the way people communicate now is totally different," he said. "The iPhones -- the stuff that that thing can do."

Conley is learning how to text and use the Internet from his five-year-old niece. Today's high cost of living also amazes him.

"To cross the bridge back them it was $1. Now it's like $5 just to cross that bridge," he said.

Conley says there are other inmates he met in prison who are in the same situation and he believes they are innocent. He and his lawyer declined to comment on any future legal action for the wrongful conviction.


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