Philadelphia man wrongfully convicted freed after 10 years

Thursday, December 22, 2016
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A Philadelphia man spent a decade behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- A Philadelphia man spent a decade behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.

Action News was there for the emotional embrace between Donte Rollins and his mother - a heartfelt beginning to his life as a free man, once again.

"I'm just happy to be out. It was messed up what happened to me, but it's over now, so I can go on and start my life," said Donte Rollins.

The last time Ava Rollins hugged her 29-year-old son he had just become an adult.

"We gotta do a lot of things we haven't done in years, and a lot of catching up to do," said Ava Rollins, mother.

Rollins is now a free man after being imprisoned back in 2006 for the attempted murder of a 6-year-old boy.

Jabar Wright was left paralyzed from a gunshot wound to the back of his head. Two other suspects were convicted.

Ava Rollins fought hard for her son.

The Pennsylvania Innocence Project eventually got involved, and Rollins was finally released after a judge and the Philadelphia DA found he was wrongfully convicted.

"It was hell, like hell on Earth. You describe hell on Earth and that's what jail is for me, because I didn't belong there," said Donte Rollins.

The decision to overturn the conviction came after mounting evidence, like surveillance video and receipts, further proved Rollins was not at the crime scene at the time of the shooting - facts that were not presented in court.

"Had we had the evidence we have today, the District Attorney's Office of Philadelphia would not have charged him," said District Attorney Seth Williams.

"Over time, I'll get over it. But right now I'm still a little upset because it should've never happened," said Donte Rollins.

For now, Rollins says he has a lot of catching up to do, like food to eat and places to go that he hasn't visited in a decade.

And a debt of gratitude he says he'll gladly repay to his mother and those who stood by his side.

"When I get home, I'm going to owe my life to my mother. I'm going to live for her," said Donte Rollins.