Eric Riddick spent nearly 30 years behind bars for a murder he says he did not commit. But on Friday, he walked free.
“I feel great, I feel great,” Riddick, 51, said as he left a Philadelphia courthouse.
“They say it takes a village to raise a child. I guess it takes a village to raise justice, too,” he went on to say, adding that the rush of emotions was “overwhelming.”
In recent years, his case attracted greater national attention and several key people advocated for his release, including a prominent hip-hop artist and a sympathetic city councilman.
In the summer of 1992, Riddick was convicted of murdering his childhood friend William Catlett based on the testimony of a single eyewitness, and was sentenced to life in prison.
His case was first brought to the attention of NBC News by the rapper and activist Meek Mill, who says he met Riddick when he was sent to the same prison for probation violations.
Riddick’s mother, Christine, has fought for her son for years, knocking on doors at City Hall and fiercely advocating for his release since virtually the day he was convicted.
Her protests and persistence got the attention of Philadelphia Councilman David Oh, who became deeply involved in the fight to free Riddick and eventually sponsored a resolution asking Gov. Tom Wolf to pardon him.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Dan Slepian, Ron Allen and Daniel Arkin