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24 Years a Prisoner: Innocent Man Finds Freedom in Forgiveness

05-24-2017
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Shaurn Thomas isn't bitter, he's thankful. 

The 43-year-old was released from prison this week after serving 24 years for a murder he did not commit.

"I feel wonderful, a free man. I can't feel no better," Thomas said. "Hey man, just got to believe in God, and had the right legal team, and keep fighting."

Thomas was sentenced to life in prison for killing Domingo Martinez, a Philadelphia businessman who was shot in 1990 while trying to cash a $25,000 check, according to news reports from the incident. Thomas had an alibi. He said he was at a correctional center for youth offenders when the murder happened. Somehow, the jury still found him guilty.

The law firm Dechert, LLP took on Thomas' case in 2011 after attorney James Figorski came across it when he was volunteering with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, a non-profit organization that works to secure exonerations for the wrongfully convicted. 

"Shaurn engaged in a decades' long struggle to prove his innocence," Figorski said in a statement. "I joined him in that struggle, and many times it seemed that we would never succeed and he would remain in prison for the rest of his life."

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office agreed with Thomas' lawyers that there was not enough evidence to support a conviction--and agreed to withdraw it. 

"We will continue to review this case and make a decision regarding retrial in the very near future," the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Thomas says he holds no grudge against those who imprisoned him.

"I don't got no animosity towards nobody. What for? Life's too short for that," Thomas told WPVI. "I just move on forward. It's a tragedy that happened to me, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one."

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