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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 12:41:00 AM

I just had to comment on your log today about the "feeling big" around men so not dating them thing--- I totally agree!!!! I dated a guy for a long time (trying not to mind the size thing- he was 120lbs 5'6" to my 190lbs 5'5") and always felt so clumsy and brut-ish around him. It got to the point where the sex sucked and I felt so gross I got even bigger! So based on personal experience- it's great you feel comfortable around these new tall skinny men of yours :) Best of luck honey! So exciting!!!
oonah, 6/8/2006 12:43:30 PM
hey hey,
that was fast.. heh. i wish there was a way to "whisper" without being in a group with you. Speaking of which, if you somehow give me your email address i can invite you to my team/group for non obsessive-lameasses with a sense of humor, ha.

How did you start out with the running... how fast? how many mins in a row? etc. I feel like such a loser jogging 5.1mph for like 10 minutes and being proud of myself, but hey, gotta ease into it... I AM enjoying it though, shockingly! Haven't tried running outside again yet though, that's always much harder...

Not too much has changed, but not 40 lbs lost at this point haha... So many binges in the past few weeks, but i'm starting a new "relaxed" method of treating myself which will hopefully combat that problem...
sluttony, 6/6/2006 11:39:28 AM
hey there,
just wanted to say I'm very impressed by your efforts as well! especially re: running since i JUST started trying to run this past weekend after a 6 yr hiatus... i'm looking for tips! holla back via public log comment, heh
sluttony, 6/6/2006 11:16:06 AM
hi rachelzoe, congrats on all your success with peertrainer! Love your (b)log. I, too, refuse to give up baking and cooking and red wine (and, in my case, SUSHI) as I embark on my own weight loss goals. anyway, you're an inspiration.
rosie113, 5/22/2006 11:47:11 PM
Hi, congrats on your 1 year peertrainer anniversary. Mine's coming up soon, i've lost 35 pounds! You look hot in your bikini pics, congrats!! Do you have before pictures?
fleur83, 4/30/2006 2:04:45 AM
hey heather! thanks for the advice....i will look into the abs dvd. i live in an apartment that is way too tiny to practice yoga comfortably, but i can definitely do some ab work on the little patch of available floor. :)
rachelzoe, 1/29/2006 4:25:06 PM
I saw that you have a issue with your ab strength, I just started using a dvd by Tamille Webb called "I Want That Body" (she is the abs of steel lady), well if you ignore the music that workout will get you in shape. They are broken into 15 min sessions and I do about 10 minutes of the abs right now and am seeing a HUGE difference in my abs. Good luck. Take care.
Red :)
Heather, 1/26/2006 2:45:25 PM
Hello :) I love vinyasa yoga as well. Have you tried Yoga Shakti by Shiva Rea? It is excellent. Hope you have a great day.
Red :)
Heather, 1/26/2006 2:40:09 PM
Rachel, thanks for visiting my log!! I know, isn't 24 the absolute BEST! I am addicted!!
elle, 1/17/2006 3:16:29 PM
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