LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Obie Anthony spent 17 long years in prison for a murder in South Los Angeles.
Now, Anthony has been exonerated and was able to walk out of prison Tuesday night into the arms of his fiancee and family.
“It’s breathtaking … it’s amazing … it’s so, so, so relieving to be free, finally,” Anthony said. “I don’t know, it’s hard exactly how to express it.”
Anthony’s release is due, in large part, to the work of legal volunteers working for the “Project for the Innocent” team at Loyola Law School and the “Northern California Innocence Project” at Santa Clara University School of Law. These student volunteers and new attorneys have worked on the case for nearly four years and appeared at a September evidentiary hearing.
The 37-year-old was convicted in 1995 of fatally shooting a man outside a South L.A. brothel and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Volunteers found evidence that the prosecution’s star witness, a pimp, had lied about seeing Anthony at the murder scene.
A judge last week overturned Anthony’s conviction, saying the case was tainted by a dishonest witness and a prosecutor who broke the rules.
Still, Anthony said he doesn’t feel any anger.
“No, none whatsoever,” Anthony said. “Anger is not a word I would use because I understand the system is designed to do justice.
“You just have individuals within the system that [are more concerned with] winning first before justice.”
Laurie Levenson, of Loyola Law School, helped exonerate Anthony and came to see him walk free Tuesday.
“I’m so happy for Obie and I’m so grateful for the Northern California Innocence Project…and I’m so grateful just to be part of this special moment,” Levenson said.
“Obie, have a wonderful life.”
Anthony said he now wants to pursue a career as a private investigator because he credits the work of investigators in restoring his freedom.