ONLY ON ABC7NEWS.COM: Newly exonerated Lake County man says he nearly died after release

ST. HELENA, Calif. (KGO) -- He went from prison to the hospital and only ABC7 News spoke with the Northern California man who served 18 years for a crime he didn't commit.

Luther Jones got out of state prison last week. When released, he was very sick. His family says the California Department of Corrections essentially dumped him without regard to his condition.

The story took a new turn at St. Helena Hospital, the hospital where Luther Jones spent most of his days after getting out of prison. On Wednesday he went home for a second time and he spoke to ABC7 News' Wayne Freedman.

Freedman: "What is it like to be free after spending all those years in prison?"
Luther Jones: "It is the best feeling in the world. The best feeling. When I found I was going to be released, after all these years, it made me want to jump up and down, and I can't walk."

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had released Jones from a prison hospital one week ago after serving part of a 27 year sentence for a crime he did not commit. The CDCR sent Jones to his son's home in Kelseyville, dropped him off in an ambulance and left. Within 24 hours, Luther Jones lost consciousness.

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"They just told me he had kidney failure, liver failure and diabetes and he goes to dialysis," said Kofawn Jones, Luther Jones' son.

Freedman: "Did they say he needed to be in a hospital?"
Kofawn Jones: "No. They should not have released him from the hospital."

Luther Jones did not regain consciousness until Saturday in the intensive care ward at St. Helena Hospital. His family has no money to pay the medical bills, but the state does owe $140 for every day of those 18 years while wrongfully imprisoned.

Attorney Angela Carter, who helped with the release, says she hopes that money comes fast. "To me, fast would be as soon as the claim is filed," Carter said.

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But there is no guarantee of that and there could be a civil case based on how the CDCR handled Luther Jones' release.

"I was put outside the gate and left and almost died. I just almost died," Luther Jones said.

Luther Jones is heading home to Kelseyville. The woman who forced her 10-year-old daughter to testify against him, the Lake County district attorney is now looking at charging her with a felony.

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