Philadelphia man exonerated after 24 years in prison: 'I feel wonderful'

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Phila. man exonerated after 24 years in prison: I feel wonderful
Phila. man exonerated after 24 years in prison: I feel wonderful. Dann Cuellar reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on May 23, 2017.

PHILADELPHIA -- A Philadelphia man has been exonerated after spending 24 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit.

Shaurn Thomas was all smiles as he celebrated with his fiancée Stephonia Long and his lawyers from the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.

He was released from a prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania Tuesday.

"I feel wonderful, a free man. I can't feel no better," Thomas said. "Hey man, just got to believe in God, and had the right legal team, and keep fighting."

Thomas had maintained his innocence since he was arrested at the age of 19 for the murder of a Puerto Rican businessman back in November of 1990.

All along he had said he was at a hearing on another matter at the former youth study center during the morning of the crime.

His mother and sister said they were with him, but nobody would believe them.

Finally, at a court hearing Tuesday, a judge threw out the conviction after the district attorney's office agreed with his lawyers that the evidence against him did not support the conviction.

"It feels amazing. It's one of the best feelings I ever had to see Shaurn Thomas walk out of prison. A lot of hard work went into it. We, at times, thought this would never happen, but it finally happened today," Jim Figorski of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project said.

Philadelphia man exonerated after 24 years in prison. Monica Malpass reports during Action News at 5pm on May 23, 2017.

Thomas says he holds no grudges against authorities after losing 24 years of his life behind bars.

"I don't got no animosity towards nobody. What for? Life's too short for that. You can't get it back. I just move on forward. It's a tragedy that happened to me, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one," Thomas said.

His first meal out of prison? Thomas planned to have the Ultimate Feast at Red Lobster.

He also used a cell phone for the very first time.

"I got to use a cell phone for the first time. It felt funny, but it was a wonderful thing," Thomas said.

The Philadelphia District attorney's office, however, will announce whether they expect to retry Thomas at a hearing next month.


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