Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Three Baltimore men convicted in 1983 of murdering a 14-year-old boy for his Georgetown University jacket have been freed and exonerated for the crime.
Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart walked out of Baltimore Circuit Court on Monday after serving 36 years each for slaying of DeWitt Duckett inside Harlem Park Junior High School.
The three were each 16 years old at time of their convictions.
"This opportunity that was given to us is unreal," Stewart told reporters. "I sat on my bunk when I got the information and I cried. I didn't know how to stop crying, until a friend of mine came to me, hugged me, and said, 'Your journey is coming to end.'"
"But it's not," he said. "My journey is just beginning."
The men's exoneration was secured by Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby. who leads a conviction integrity unit in partnership with two nonprofit innocence projects. She told a court hearing the 1983 convictions, based largely on the testimony of four young classmates of Duckett, was tainted by coaching and coercion from police and prosecutors.
Those witnesses have all since recanted and a Georgetown jacket found in Chestnut's possession was actually purchased for him by his mother, she said.
"You, you and you, should never have seen the inside of a jail cell," Mosby told the men. "So on behalf of this system I apologize to you and your family."