LOS ANGELES – A man whose murder conviction was overturned after 17 years behind bars was released Tuesday from a Los Angeles jail.
Family members screamed and cried when Obie Anthony, 37, walked out of the Twin Towers jail at about 7:40 p.m., four days after the judge's decision.
After his release, Anthony told reporters he read self-help books during his incarceration and kept his faith in God. He said he had no anger and believed the justice system worked.
Anthony struggled to express his emotions about his newfound freedom.
"It's really overwhelming at this point," said Anthony, surrounded by his family and team of lawyers. "It's going to take a couple of days before everything really sets all the way in.
Anthony was convicted of fatally shooting a man outside a South Los Angeles brothel in a 1995 trial and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But last Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kelvin D. Filer overturned Anthony's conviction after determining that the prosecution's star witness, a pimp, lied to the jury.
Anthony said he wasn't at the scene and has maintained his innocence.
Laurie Levenson, who helped secure Anthony's release, said the witness has since admitted that his previous testimony was wrong and that he never saw the shooter.
"It's good to come to the truth even if it's a bit late," Levenson said.
Student members of the Project for the Innocent team at Loyola Law School and the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law worked on Anthony's case for three and a half years, and appeared at a September evidentiary hearing.
Anthony thanked his legal team for "coming to my rescue and giving me life again and making it possible for me to be home and away from this place."
Anthony said he longed to attend a Los Angeles Lakers game and eat real food. He also vowed to pay it forward by helping others in similar situations.
"I knew from the very beginning that justice will come," he said. "I never once wavered in my faith."
The 1994 shooting death was featured prominently in "The Killing Season," a book about two Los Angeles Police Department homicide detectives by former Los Angeles Times reporter Miles Corwin.