CHICAGO (WLS) -- With a judge's order throwing out his murder conviction in-hand, Tyrone Hood truly became a free man as he was exonerated at a Monday morning hearing after spending more than 20 years in prison for a slaying he's continued to insist he did not commit.
"I can't even describe how I feel right now," he said.
Nearly a month ago, outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn commuted Hood's sentence, releasing him from prison.
The decision by Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to dismiss the convictions against Hood and his co-defendant Wayne Washington, Jr. follows more than two years of investigation by her office's conviction integrity unit - which began looking into the case in 2012 after the University of Chicago's Exoneration Project championed Hood's innocence.
"We're so appreciative of the state for taking the time to reinvestigate the case and reach the right resolution," said Gayle Horn, Hood's attorney.
A now 51-year-old Hood was serving a 50-year prison sentence after he was convicted of the 1993 shooting death of Marshall Morgan, Jr., an Illinois Institute of Technology basketball star.
According to authorities, Hood and Washington committed the murder during a holdup.
Washington - who was released from prison years ago - was not present Monday.
"He was ecstatic. He continued to fight. It's an albatross, a murder conviction around your neck, especially one you didn't do," said Steve Greenberg, Washington's attorney.
Attorneys for Hood say the victim's father was a more likely suspect. Marshall Morgan, Sr. was struggling financially and took out an insurance policy on his son's life before he was murdered.
But the jury heard none of that.
"Unfortunately that was the reason I think why Tyrone was convicted," said Jim Mullenix, Hood's trial attorney.
Since his release, Hood has reconnected with his three now-adult children and remains excited about rebuilding his life.
"I'm going to take it one day at a time," Hood said. "I've got to get my job, my life back in order."
Tyrone Hood freed in wrongful conviction case after serving 21 years
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