A Florida man who spent 32 years in prison after a wrongful conviction was freed with the help of an attorney who just graduated law school.
Thomas Raynard James was convicted of murder and has been proclaiming his innocence.
Natlie Figgers, a lawyer who had been out of law school for two years, was approached by friends of James who had been raising money for his defense since 2020, according to NBC News.
Figgers is a business and personal injury attorney and although James case required a criminal attorney, she decided to take his case after reading up on it.
Just six weeks after the birth of her son, Figgers got to work on the case.
She spent over 2,000 hours in research and started interviewing people to help her with James’ case. She personally went and spoke to at least 75 people about the case and cold-called those who testified during the 1990 murder trial of Francis McKinnon, according to NBC News.
Figgers then gave all the information she acquired through her research to the Conviction Review Unit, which helps to “identify, remedy, and prevent wrongful convictions,” as the outlet writes. If the review unit believes the case is convincing, they will recommend an inmate’s release from prison, according to NBC News.
Figgers did not give up, saying, “I couldn’t stop until he was out. So, I kept giving them more. It became overwhelming evidence of his innocence.”
Nine sets of fingerprints were found at the crime scene and none belonged to James.
The stepdaughter of Francis McKinnon, Dorothy Wilson, is the one who identified James as the murderer, at the scene. However, there was no physical evidence that James was there at all.
A man by the same name lived close to where McKinnon lived and had a violent criminal past. He was also friends of the man who was convicted of robbing McKinnon on the night of her murder.
When The Coral Gables police heard those names, they searched their database and James came up with a gun possession charge after being involved in drug trading. However, they deemed him the murderer.
Psalm 82:3 says, “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.”
On April 27, a judge in Miami ruled that James was wrongfully imprisoned for 32 years for a murder he did not commit and was exonerated.
Speaking on his case, James said, “I never asked anybody to believe what I was saying What I did was say for any and everybody to simply admit that if what I was saying was true, that I had been wrongly convicted. But the only way you can reach that conclusion is to delve into the depths of my situation. Natlie Figgers did. I owe her my life.”
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