After spending more than two decades in prison for a triple murder they didn’t commit, Antonio Yarbough and Sharrif Wilson were cleared of all charges and released last Thursday. The pair was convicted in 1992 of killing Yarbough’s mother and two 12-year-old girls, one of whom was his sister. Recent DNA testing of scrapings from Yarbough’s mother fingernails excluded the pair. The results matched to a DNA profile recovered on crime scene evidence from a 1999 murder that occurred while both men were in prison.
Yarbough discovered the three bodies when he returned to his Coney Island home from a night out with Wilson. After the men were questioned, Wilson, who was only 15 years old at the time, wrote a confession with a promise from police that he would be released to go home if he fingered Yarbough. Wilson recanted in 2005.
Trice Edney Wire News reported that despite the long road to freedom, Yarbough’s faith is strong as he starts to rebuild his life. “I’m just trying to figure it all out. I was 17 when this happened. Everything is so big out here,” Yarbough said. “I’m still finding my bearings, you know what I’m saying? I didn’t think about it until I got out. I have no place to stay. I have no bank account. It’s extremely weird.”
Yarbough, who turns 40 today, worked toward his GED over the past two years as his hopes for being released grew. And now that he is free, he is taking it one step at a time. He said in an interview with the Wire News, “I’m buying me some sneakers right now,” he said over the phone. “But I’ll have a phone tomorrow.”
Despite leaving prison with only $80 to his name and the realization that he didn’t even know where his family was buried, Yarbough is grateful: “Tell everyone I said thanks . . . I’m blessed.”