Man thanks Loyola students for winning his release after 32 years

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's a whole new world for Andrew Wilson.

He was recently released from prison 32 years after a murder conviction that the District Attorney's Office now acknowledges resulted from an unfair trial.

Free now for less than a week, he is still adjusting to life on the outside, tasting new foods and learning how to use a cellphone.

On Tuesday, he visited Loyola Law School, thanking law students and staff at the Project for the Innocent who secured his release.

The project found missteps in the case, including evidence that someone else committed the murder and other evidence that the prosecution withheld.

Wilson, now 62, said he doesn't want to waste the time he has left in freedom begrudging those who did him wrong.

But in an interview, he acknowledged the deep emotions he feels upon gaining his freedom and how he feels about the system that convicted and imprisoned him for so long.

"It seems like it's just a run 'em through the system thing. They don't care," he said, pausing to cry. "They don't care. The DA's office don't care."

The head of the Project for the Innocent said some things in the justice system have changed over the years. For one, the current DA's office was helpful in providing information that won Wilson's released.

At age 62, Wilson is taking stock of what he lost and what he has gained. He is surrounded by his family and anxious to see his 96-year old mother in St. Louis.

For three decades Maggie Davis led a letter-writing campaign for her son. Her file includes one to LAPD Chief Daryl Gates in 1988. She never received an answer.

"I sent it to the Justice Department. I have been an African American for 96 years. I know they aren't going to do anything."

But she didn't give up.

"She called the press she called Oprah, '60 Minutes,' anybody who would listen," said Paula Mitchell, legal director for Loyola's Project for the Innocent.

The project receives mail from 600 to 800 inmates a year. Mitchell says an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 California inmates are wrongly imprisoned.

"They have no money, they have no counsel, no legal representation," Mitchell said.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.