Shaurn Thomas was all smiles as he celebrated with his fiance, Stephonia Long, and his lawyers from the Pennsylvania Innocence Project on Tuesday evening.
He was released from a prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania just hours before.
"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 had maintained his innocence since he was arrested at the age of 19 for the murder of a Puerto Rican businessman back in November of 1990.
All along he had said he was at a hearing on another matter at the former youth study center during the morning of the crime.
His mother and sister said they were with him, but nobody would believe them.
Finally, at a court hearing Tuesday, a judge threw out the conviction after the district attorney's office agreed with his lawyers that the evidence against him did not support the conviction.
"It feels amazing. It's one of the best feelings I ever had to see Shaurn Thomas walk out of prison. A lot of hard work went into it. We, at times, thought this would never happen, but it finally happened today," Jim Figorski of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project said.
Thomas says he holds no grudges against authorities after losing 24 years of his life behind bars.
"I don't got no animosity towards nobody. What for? Life's too short for that. You can't get it back. I just move on forward. It's a tragedy that happened to me, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one," Thomas said.
His first meal out of prison? Thomas planned to have the Ultimate Feast at Red Lobster.
He also had a brand new experience.
"I got to use a cell phone for the first time. It felt funny, but it was a wonderful thing," Thomas said.
The Philadelphia District attorney's office will announce whether they expect to retry Thomas at a hearing next month.
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