Exonerees Describe Their First Days of Freedom in New York Magazine


New York Magazine

published a long piece Monday featuring exonerees Jeffrey Deskovic, Barry Gibbs, Jonathan Fleming, Fernando Bermudez, Alan Newton, Gerard Richardson, Derrick Hamilton and David McCallum describing their first days on the outside after decades in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Barry Gibbs, who was released in September of 2005, recounted how an encounter with Innocence Project Co-Founder Barry Scheck’s dog helped him ease out of his prison mindset.

“They opened up the door, and I saw a dog on the other side of the room. I’m looking at this dog, and the dog’s looking at me. I just couldn’t move. I was in shock when they got me out, I was really in shock. I hadn’t seen a dog in 19 years, and as I started bending down, the dog started walking over. I stretched myself all the way down on the floor, and the dog came up to my face and gave me a kiss on my face, and that’s when I think I broke out of shock. I started crying. The dog was named Murray, I think. I’ll never forget that. When the dog kissed me, that’s when I knew I was free.”

David McCallum, who was released in October of 2014 after 29 years in prison, recalled the pain of being exonerated and released without his codefendant, Willie Stuckey, who died in prison of a heart attack in 2001:

“I saw Stuckey’s mom when we were in the elevator together going up to the courtroom. She said to me, ‘It’s supposed to be two of you.’ And she broke down. I was still shackled, so I couldn’t really hold her even if I wanted to. The district attorney and the judge let his mom sit in for him, so we were sitting next to each other while the proceedings were taking place. She said something very profound to me. She said, ‘You’re my son now.’”

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