PHILADELPHIA (WTXF/AP) - The evidence was there but not presented to police or the district attorney’s office, and that’s what cost a man ten years in prison for a violent crime he didn’t commit.
Philadelphia DA Seth Williams and Marissa Boyers Bluestine of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project described the situation on Good Day Philadelphia, the day after Donte Rollins’ release.
They showed how Rollins was one of four men arrested in the January 2006 shooting in Strawberry Mansion that left 6-year-old boy Jabar Wright paralyzed.
The next year, Rollins and two of the others were convicted. The fourth defendant had an alibi and was acquitted.
But Rollins was far away: shopping at the Gallery and had receipts. Then, 55 minutes later, he was on South Street wearing different clothes – nowhere near Strawberry Mansion.
According to Williams, “If we had the evidence, we wouldn’t have charged Mr. Rollins.”
New defense lawyers and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project argued for a new trial.
A judge said no but Tuesday, an appeals court reversed that decision and ordered Rollins' release from his 62-125 year prison sentence pending a new trial.
Wednesday, prosecutors said they would not pursue that. Instead, they dropped the attempted murder charge.
Rollins, now 29, smiled and said he was happy to be free after a decade he called "pure hell."
Rollins spent most of his time at Graterford Prison in Montgomery County, working as an inmate carpenter.
After his release, Rollins had a hot meal Rollins he got to eat with a fork after years of only spoons, and also take a hot bath.
His mother Ava Rollins, who spent years trying to free her son, says they have a lot of catching up to do over Christmas.
And now that he has been cleared, Rollins -- still bitter -- says he's going to start living life and help other inmates in similar situations.