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Victim Of A Wrongful Conviction, An American Spent 45 Years In Prison

Richard Phillips was declared the longest imprisoned innocent man in America.

Seventy-three-year-old Richard Phillips was convicted in 1972 and sentenced to life for a murder he didn’t commit and spent 45 years in prison.

A few years ago, the court concluded this conviction had been “based almost entirely” on the false testimony of one witness, according to prosecutors.

Now the state of Michigan just awarded him 1.5 million dollars as restitution for his wrongful conviction.

Richard Phillips was freed in 2018 after the University of Michigan’s Innocence Clinic took up his case and declared him the longest imprisoned innocent man in America.

To support himself while waiting for officials to decide restitution, Phillips resorted to selling paintings he'd created while behind bars, some sold to a price over a few thousand dollars a piece.

"I just want to keep a low profile, travel and enjoy life"

The wait ended Friday when Michigan’s top law enforcement official announced the 1.5 million dollars award.

Speaking after the hearing, Phillips told Detroit News: "I just want to keep a low profile, travel and enjoy life. That's what I wanted to do in the first place." Phillips is a beneficiary of the Michigan Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act funds, a law, which passed in 2016 and dictates that exonerated ex-inmates be paid 50 000 dollars for each year spent in prison.

In this case, Richard Phillips he's being paid only for 30 years because he was serving a separate armed robbery conviction at the same time.

The state will also pay more than 780 000 dollars to Neal Redick, imprisoned nearly 16 years for sexual assault of a minor before he was exonerated and released in 2007.

Also, former reserve police officer Raymond McCann will receive approximately 40 000 dollars, after he was exonerated of perjury in 2017.

"Reentering society is profoundly difficult for wrongfully convicted individuals," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

"We have an obligation to provide compassionate compensation to these men for the harm they suffered."

Konbini With AFP

By Astrid Van Laer, published on 22/05/2019

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