North Philadelphia man released from prison after a decade

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A bath. After spending 10 years in Graterford Prison for a crime he didn’t commit, all that Donte Rollins wanted was a hot bath.

“It was hell. You can describe it as hell on earth for me. I didn’t belong there and that made my days extremely long,”  said Rollins, minutes after being released from state custody and into the arms of his mother.

Rollins, 29 was released from prison custody wearing brand new clothes and a mile-wide smile hours after District Attorney Seth Williams withdrew a 2006 attempted murder charge.

Rollins was convicted and sentenced to 62-to-125 years in prison for the shooting that left six-year-old Jabar Wright paralyzed in Strawberry Mansion.  

Two other men are currently serving sentences for the crime.  But for the last decade his mother fought for her sons freedom. At 4:35pm on Tuesday she got her wish.

“We have a lot of catching up to do.” said mother Ava Rollins.

Ava Rollins enlisted the help of the Innocence Project who helped lead an investigation into new evidence that showed Rollins wasn’t even at crime scene the night of the shooting. 

"After a substantial investigation… we conclude, with the assistance of the PA Innocence Project, that if it had been… there would have been reasonable doubt about Dante Rollins guilt.” says Williams.

Rollins spent most of his sentence in Graterford Prison in Montgomery County where he worked at an inmate carpenter.  He said he “almost lost my mind” during his incarceration thinking every day about his innocence.

“This man is stone cold innocent and it just pains me that a lawyer didn’t do this job and it resulted in him losing 9 years of his life,” said Rollins attorney Michael Wiseman.

The 29 year old says he is still bitter about the wrongful conviction but say he wants to help other inmates in the same situation.

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

Rollins left the courthouse surrounded by family, friends and attorneys who were celebrating his freedom and planning what’s next.  

First up was a hot meal that Rollins could eat with a fork.

“I’ve been eating with a spoon for years”. said Rollins.

He also wants to get reacquainted with his mom, who was instrumental in helping her son become a free man.

“I am going to open my life to my mother. I am going to live for her. Whatever she wants me to do I’ll do it,” he said. 

But first- that hot bath.

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