Innocent man freed from prison after 11 years

After spending 11 years in prison for a crime he did not commit a Philadelphia man is finally free.

Dontia Patterson was 17-years-old when he was convicted for his friend's murder in 2007. He's out of prison thanks to the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and a local attorney.

29-year-old Dontia Patterson is on top of the world. On Wednesday, he got the news he's been waiting more than a decade to hear.

"Free man. I can start living my life again," he said.

Patterson was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his friend, 18-year-old Antwine Jackson. Jackson was shot and killed in January 2007 outside a corner store on the 800 block of Granite Street.

Patterson lived down the street and told police he ran outside when he heard the gunshots. Within months, he was charged with murder. Then Patterson went through two trials in two years , with one resulting in a hung jury, and the second ending with a first-degree murder conviction.

"What's been the hardest part for you?" FOX 29's Dawn Timmeney asked. He replied, "My daughter, not being there for her, especially being in prison for a crime you know you didn't do."

Patterson's conviction was vacated in February after attorney Hayes Hunt of Cozen and O'Connor and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project took his case.

He was released from prison on March 25 under house arrest, pending a possible third trial. Then, on Wednesday a judge granted a motion by the district attorney's office to drop the charges. That motion called his conviction an egregious example of police and prosecutorial misconduct.

His attorney who worked pro bono says it was an easy case of innocence.

"The more we learned, the more information was provided it became even more apparent," Patterson's attorney Hayes Hunt said.

Former prosecutor Richard Sax tried the second case and got the conviction. He says he's horrified by Wednesday's ruling.

For Dontia Patterson it was the only decision and long overdue.

Patterson appeared on Good Day Philadelphia Thursday morning to talk more about his experience and what he has overcome.