PHILADELPHIA (WTXF/AP) - This week, a Philadelphia man who was exonerated of murder was released from prison after 24 years.
The 43-year-old said he got to use a cell phone for the first time and planned to eat the Ultimate Feast at Red Lobster as his first meal.
Thomas was convicted of participating in the deadly shooting of a businessman in North Philadelphia in 1990 while taking $25,000 to a check-cashing store -- based on the testimony of two questionable witnesses.
Thomas had long claimed he was at a juvenile detention center at the time of the crime.
The jury wasn't swayed, and he earned a life sentence in 1993, at the age of 19.
Since then, his lawyer began working with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Finally, this year, the conviction review unit of the district attorney's office found new evidence leading to his release.
Thursday morning, Shaurn Thomas and his mother Hazeline appeared on Good Day Philadelphia and he got the grits he craved for breakfast for so many years.
Chef Robert Pollard of Breakfast Boutique served the pair omelets with turkey bacon, onion and pepper -- and grits.
Thomas said he got grits in prison but “normal basic stuff” -- especially oatmeal -- and nothing like this.
Also, his brother is teaching him how to use a cell phone.
He liked playing basketball before 1993 and got to watch the Sixers in prison, along with other TV.
Now, Thomas really wants to see his “little brother” (who’s 35) overseas playing basketball, especially since he missed the college years in person.
Thomas said he doesn't hold a grudge and never lost faith he would be freed.
He lost his grandparents over the past 24 years, but said, “I’m blessed to be here with my mom and my family now.”
He recognizes he can’t get those 24 years back, but is looking forward to time with his fiancé, Stephonia Long, who made an appearance at the end of the segment.
Thomas still has to go back to court next month to make sure everything becomes finalized.
Then, he said he planned to leave Philadelphia and start fresh -- maybe in North Carolina, where it’s warmer.
He mentioned he cooks and may become a chef, which led to a job offer from Robert Pollard right there on the spot!
The segment ended with Mike Jerrick inviting Shaurn to stay and enjoy his special breakfast as long as he wants.