May 27, 2009
Posted: 05:35 PM ET
Note: Jerry Lee Evans became the 20th person in Dallas County in the past 8 years exonerated for crimes he did not commit. Jerry walked out of the courtroom a free man Wednesday afternoon after serving almost 23 years in prison, and he joined Larry to describe his emotions.
Two other innocent men who went to prison and were later exonerated will also be on LKL tonight, and they've written an LKL web EXCLUSIVE on what their first moments were like after they were set free.
By Patrick Waller, exonerated on July 3, 2008
After 16 years, 2 months and 24 days of being incarcerated – I heard the four sweetest words of my life – You're Free To Go!!! Words I was beginning to think I'd never hear. It's been like Christmas every day since. Losing your freedom unjustly for that amount of time cannot be expressed in words.
My first day of freedom was a true breath of fresh air! I actually kissed the ground – after I kissed my mother of course. Investigation Discovery's cameras for Dallas DNA captured my greatest moment of my life in vivid detail. They also captured my first beer after incarceration – which will be a lifelong memory.
I can relate to what Jerry Lee Evans is probably feeling at this exact moment. I would tell Mr. Evans if I was in Dallas today instead of in LA for Larry King Live that exoneree to exoneree – I welcome you home and I welcome you to a growing brotherhood of exonerees. Please don't allow your past to hinder your future!
By Steven Phillips, 18th Exoneree from Dallas County – exonerated on August 5, 2008:
"Exoneration!" After 26 years in prison for crimes I did not commit – what could be better to hear than a Dallas judge announce "I find you actually innocent."
What made that moment even sweeter was my mother was in the courtroom and heard these words. She had also witnessed my wrongful conviction in 1982 and was there to see this awful experience come to a close. My daughter, Skipper, heard it. She was six years old when I was sent to prison and grew up to be an amazing woman while I served time. My son, Zachary, heard it too. He was born shortly after I was incarcerated. I met him for the first time at my exoneration hearing. That long overdue father/son hug is something I will never forget. Zachary served our country and is a two tour Iraqi veteran – I could not be prouder! Finally my girl, Connie Jean, heard it – and then the whole courtroom heard her exclamation – Hallelujah!
Shortly after getting my GPS ankle bracelet cut off at the exoneration hearing – my family and I went for a swim. I had technically been on parole for the six months before my exoneration – so I had a GPS bracelet on my ankle tracking all my movements. Swimming wasn't allowed – so it was something I was craving to do now that I was a free man. I did a big flip into the pool – the splash was enormous.
Soon after being released I caught up with as many family members as I could. Especially my other son, Andrew, who has gone hunting and fishing with me every chance we get!
However, that day I was finally exonerated after 26 years of wrongfully serving time for crimes I didn't commit – that was a day The Lord made!
NOTE: Waller and Stevens' stories are told in the show, "Dallas DNA" – airing on Investigation Discovery.
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