Man wrongfully convicted in 1990 murder released from prison after 19 years

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- James Fletcher walked out of the Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet 19 years after he was wrongfully convicted of murder.

A judge vacated his conviction Wednesday morning after a request to do so by the Cook County State's Attorney.

Feeling nothing but freedom, Fletcher took selfies for the first time with his family and attorney.

"I'm nervous and ready to go and happy and you know, I'm just ready to go home," Fletcher said.

"He's out, I'm happy," Dawon Gardner, his son. "Been waiting on this moment my entire life so I'm grateful."

"I'm just blessed and just happy that he's able to make it home to see his mom and his sister and grandkids," said Arnold Dixon, his nephew.

Fletcher's attorney, Jennifer Blagg, explained that the witnesses connected to a murder in 1990 were coerced by detectives to choose Fletcher in photos.

Fletcher was convicted in 2005.

"This is a monumental day," said Blagg, who represents others who were wrongfully convicted. "It is about continuing to have hope that justice will prevail."

"They've got to fix this system, man. This system is broken.There's still a lot of innocent people that I had to leave back there, and you know, that kind of bothered me," Fletcher said.

Missing from the reunion was Fletcher's father, who spent all his time and resources to get his son released. Fletcher said his first stop will be to see his father and mother in Chicago's Austin neighborhood.
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