A Philadelphia man is speaking out following his 25-year imprisonment for a murder he did not commit.
Chester Hollman tells CBS Philadelphia that life as a free man still feels like a dream. He was found guilty of a murder on May 4, 1993 and sentenced to life imprisonment, but was freed from state prison in Luzerne County, Pa., this month after a key witness testified in 2012 that she gave false testimony, claiming police pressured her to incriminate Hollman. Prosecutors said authorities also failed to disclose key evidence that pointed to other suspects.
“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet still. Just this morning, I learned that this was happening. I’m still a little in shock, disbelief,” Hollman tells the station.
Defense attorney Alan Tauber called it “a glorious day,” according to NBC Philadelphia, adding outside the courthouse: “We have a flawed system and innocent people do go to jail. But we have a great system, because there is a means for correcting that.”
Meanwhile, as Hollman adjusts to life as a free man, the real killer could still be on the streets.
“That’s the kind of shame that happens and you have people in law enforcement, including in this office, who ignore their oath, who ignore the Constitution and who engage in misconduct, which is what happened,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said.
“It was pretty clear to us that unfortunately the police department and the district attorney’s office actually had evidence in their possession back at the time of trial. Had they disclosed that to the defense like they’re constitutionally and ethically required to do, Mr. Hollman might not have ever stood trial, quite frankly,” Patricia Cummings, supervisor of the District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit, said.
Hollman is set to appear in court on July 30 where his charges will be formally dismissed. In the meantime, he’s thankful for the passionate people “who fought hard” for his release.
“The biggest thing is that I don’t want to let anyone down,” he said.