TORRANCE (CBSLA.com) — After more than a decade behind bars, a Los Angeles man will spend Christmas with his family as a free man.
DeAndre Howard spent more than a decade in prison for a crime he says he did not commit. After a lengthy appeals process, a new trial and an acquittal, he was released from prison Friday.
The first thing he wanted to do was surprise his two sons.
“I wanted to just not let them know and just open the door,” said Howard.
In 2002, Howard was arrested for a shooting that killed one person and critically injured another in front of a liquor store on 42nd Avenue and Hoover Street. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to 75 years in prison.
“You’re just waiting to die,” Howard said. “You know. Life is over. It could be hopeless and a lot of things come with being hopeless.”
The 31-year-old father of two insisted he was innocent and spent more than a decade fighting for an appeal. A federal judge finally granted one, and a jury acquitted Howard of murder and attempted murder.
“I didn’t know if I was ever going to get out. I hoped I was going to get out, and believed that it is a high possibility with my faith,” he said. “But you never know.”
Howard is looking for work and would like to go back to school, with the goal of attending law school someday.
For now, he says the best gift is being home with his family.
“That’s my present. It’s a present from God,” he said.