Photo: Max Ortiz/Detroit News via AP
Yes, Richard Philipps, an innocent Michigan man, was imprisoned for 45 years, for a crime that he did not commit. Mr. Philipps was convicted, when he was 27, and was released in March at the age of 72.
In 1971, Gregory Harris was shot to death. Harris’s brother-in-law told the police that he had met with Richard Phillips and a Richard Palumbo to plot the victim’s murder. Both Phillips and Palumbo were convicted and Richard Phillips was sentenced to life without any possibility of parole.
From 1972, Phillips always claimed that he was innocent. In 2010, Polombo went before a parole board. Palumbo told the parole board that he killed Harris, but with only the help of the victim’s brother-in-law. Palombo informed the parole board that–Phillips had nothing to do with the murder of Harris, and he didn’t even know Phillips.
For four more years, no one told Richard Phillips about Palumbo’s parole board statements. Finally, someone contacted the Innocence Clinic about Palumbo’s statements. The Innocence Clinic, a group that investigates claims of innocence, met with Palumbo and Phillips. The organization filed legal proceedings based upon newly discovered evidence to free Richard Phillips.
The legal process took four years, and Phillips was finally granted a new trial. The prosecution offered a plea deal, where Phillips would be released immediately, but he refused.
On December 14, 2018, a judge overturned his murder conviction. Wayne County Kym Worthy stated,”The system failed him. There’s no question about it… Justice is indeed being done today.”
Since his release, life has been difficult, but Phillips is stoic. Phillips has been living off $80 worth of food stamps. He stated,
“I am not bitter. I was upset at first, but mistakes happen in this world.”
Michigan adopted the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act in 2016, which grants $50,000 for every year that a person has been wrongfully imprisoned. This makes Phillips eligible to receive up to $2,250,000.
Phillip’s attorney, told CNN that she was “hopeful and very confident” that he would receive full compensation.
Richard Phillips is an exceptional man, not just for living 45 years of wrongful imprisonment, but that he emerged from a living hell, without bitterness.
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