Man exonerated after spending 45 years in prison 'not bitter'

A US man whose murder conviction was thrown out after spending 45 years in prison has been exonerated and will not face a second trial.

Richard Phillips, 71, from the Detroit area, was upbeat, saying the criminal justice system "works - it just didn't work fast enough".

A judge granted a request to permanently drop the case against Phillips, whose conviction was erased last year.

Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said a new investigation by her office backed his claim that he had no role in a 1971 fatal shooting.

She said a key witness lied at his 1972 trial.

"There's nothing I can say to bring back 40 years of his life," Ms Worthy said. "The system failed him. This is a true exoneration."

The case was reopened at the urging of the Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan law school after a co-defendant at the 1972 trial told the state parole board that Phillips was not involved in the slaying of Gregory Harris.

Phillips had been free on bond since December. He is likely to be eligible for more than US$2m under Michigan's wrongful conviction law.

No one in the US has served more years in prison before being exonerated than Phillips, said David Moran, director of the Innocence Clinic.

"I've never carried bitterness around, so I'm not a bitter man," Phillips told reporters when asked about his decades in prison.

One of his goals is a reunion with two children who were aged two and four when he went to prison in 1972.

Despite publicity about his case, Phillips said he has not heard from them and does not know their whereabouts.

"You have seen the worst and best of the criminal justice system," Judge Kevin Cox told Phillips.

Phillips has settled in a Detroit suburb and attends a church where he shares his story with others.

"His freedom truly belongs to him again," Mr Moran said.

- AP

More in this Section

Suspected knifeman arrested at Manchester shopping centreSuspected knifeman arrested at Manchester shopping centre

Nasa astronauts complete historic all-female spacewalkNasa astronauts complete historic all-female spacewalk

Trump names Perry deputy to replace him at Energy DepartmentTrump names Perry deputy to replace him at Energy Department

Donald Trump praises astronauts on first all-female spacewalkDonald Trump praises astronauts on first all-female spacewalk


Lifestyle

Sunday Lunch costs €45 per person and includes several set courses but with a choice of mains.Restaurant Review: Bastible Restaurant, Dublin

It never ceases to stop me in my tracks when I hear my husband intone to our children one of the oft overused phrases from my stockpile of, “Can you just not?” categories.Lindsay Woods: If my children feel I’m doing it wrong then I must be doing it right

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness — John Keats had it right about autumn.Eyes on the pies: Eight apple tarts put to the taste test

Simone Rocha invited ieStyle into her London studio for an exclusive look behind the scenes as she put the finishing touches to her acclaimed collection for Fashion Week. Rachel Marie Walsh reportsBeing Simone Rocha: An exclusive look behind the scenes

More From The Irish Examiner