Two Chicago men released after nearly 20 years

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

After spending nearly two decades behind bars, two Chicago men finally got a chance to smell freedom today.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office on Tuesday said prosecutors are dropping charges against 42-year-old Ronald Kitchen and 50-year-old Marvin Reeves.

The two men were convicted of killing two women and three children in 1988, but recent discoveries by their attorneys and Northwestern University law students cast doubt on the cases against them.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet. It’s, like, surreal. And I guess when I actually sit down and take a hot bath. It might hit me then,” said Kitchen, who had been sentenced to death.

Their case was based largely on Kitchen’s confession, but he’s long maintained that he was tortured into the admission. The men were granted a new trial, but Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s deputy chief of staff said her office couldn’t meet the burden of proof and justice required the men’s release.

“I am so glad this is all over. You don’t know how many times I done walked up them stairs and went into that court. It’s been a long time,” said Pollyanna Reeves, mother of Martin Reeves.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago