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Michael Phillips has been spending most of his time these days living in a tiny room in a no-frills northeast Dallas nursing home.Until recently, he had a roommate who slept in a bed 2 feet away, and staff brought him three square meals a day.

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Only a few hours passed each day in which he didn't think about his burden of four decades: being a convicted sex offender.That was before Friday,

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when Phillips was officially exonerated by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins' Conviction Integrity Unit, which determined via DNA testing that he was falsely convicted. The state will now pay him handsomely for its mistake.

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It was a first-of-its-kind exoneration in that Phillips wasn't clamoring for vindication. As was the case when he accepted a plea deal in 1990, he felt that his race would preclude him from getting a fair shake in the justice system, so he just accepted his plight.After entering hisplea,

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Phillips, a 57-year-old African-American who grew up in New Orleans, served 12 years in a Texas prison for the rape of a 16-year-old white girl at a Dallas motel where he'd worked as a maintenance man.Confined to a wheelchair due to his battle with sickle cell anemia, Phillips has been out of jail since 2002. He has been living in nursing homes the past few years as his health has spiraled downward.

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Though he's been out of prison for 12 years, he considers his life one long sentence, as he was forced to wear the branding of a convicted sex offender.

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In his first week as a free man, Phillips is overjoyed and struggles to put his emotions into words, instead pointing to the spirituality that helped him cope all these years."A-W-E doesn't describe the feeling.

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I don't know if they got a word that describes how I feel. To have a leash taken off my neck and off my ankle, I know how my ancestors felt when they got free,"

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he said.Falsely AccusedAccording to the Dallas Police Department report from September 28, 1990,

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the victim was awakened by a man wearing a black and white ski mask.While struggling with the man and biting his hand several times,

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the victim told police, she pulled up her assailant's mask and recognized him as Phillips, a man she had seen living at the motel.The following month,

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detectives showed the victim a six-picture lineup, and she again identified Phillips as the man who raped her.(The Dallas Police Department no longer presents photos side by side,

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because the district attorney's office says it suggests that the perpetrator must be present and compels the victim to pick one.)It didn't help that Phillips had a record.

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In an interview with CNN, Phillips acknowledged committing a home burglary when he was 19."Being young and foolish, there were things you do that were juvenile,"

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he said.But at 32, he was trying to make an honest living and was shocked to hear that he was being charged with a rape that he hadn't committed.

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He feels that the prior burglary conviction and a "broken criminal justice system" were to blame for the bad advice he got next."The first paid public defender came in there and said, '

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Mr. Phillips, the DA went back and saw that you just got out of prison a couple of years ago, so they want to lock you up for 99 years.' He thought he was doing me a favor. He said, '

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You could get life, so you are going to take this 99 years.' "

godisd, 8/1/2014 12:40:09 AM
Hi Iris,

Congratulations on the battle of walk and losing weight. I am on the same boat.
I am walking the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Denver, CO next June 23-24th.
39 miles :) I h ave walked on traning more then 200 miles :D
Keep going you are a winner!

moonlight, 6/12/2007 12:28:37 AM
Hey you!

I just re.joined PT after a horrible summer (read: return to States, death of a close friend, bad break.up w. long-term bf, etc). I gained about 10 lbs in attempt to cope w. my grief, and I needed to do something as the scale kept climbing.

Anyway, I just read your message in my public log, and it reminded me of how successful PT really is, and how much I enjoyed being in your group. Let me know if there are any openings in any of your current groups; I need to get back on track.

Thanks again. Jess.
Jessicaw, 9/11/2006 1:11:32 PM
Hey girly! Thanks for the comment in my log. Sorry it took me so long to get it! I forget to check that thing sometimes.

About the Yoga Shelter...where is that located again? I forgot. Funny that you mention it because I have been looking for a close place to take a prenatal yoga class.
bradway, 6/27/2006 9:36:05 PM
Hi Iris! I went MIA for awhile and wanted to drop by to say hi. I thought I was battling about a month long bout of my depression and anxiety medication not working, but it turns out I'm PG! LOL. I miss you guys!

How are things with you?
bradway, 6/1/2006 7:40:44 PM
Thanks Bradway!!!! :-) Send me an email and I'll send you a pin or bracelet for your donation. :-)

irissvb, 5/4/2006 5:56:02 PM
Okay...I donated and I have to tell you. I had goosebumps reading the story on your donation page. I may have to walk with you next year.
bradway, 5/4/2006 2:21:34 PM
Hi IRIS!!! I'm here to make a donation for your walk :)

You posted a picture!! You're gorgeous! :)

P.S. My favorite apples are Gala's too.
bradway, 5/4/2006 2:14:12 PM
Thanks Starlite.
I'm really disappointed--I've never gone to an actual spa before. I'm thinking that maybe I can do it some other time.... You're probably right--I'm sure it would have been pricey!
irissvb, 4/18/2006 11:40:44 PM
Iris, sorry about the Spa thing getting canceled! That sounded like it was going to be fun. I bet it would have been expensive as all get out though.

You are doing a great job and are such an inspiration. Thanks!

starlite, 4/18/2006 11:31:19 AM
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