Happy Scribe Logo

Transcript

Proofread by 0 readers
Proofread
[00:00:01]

In nineteen ninety six, a man by the name of Helen Bernard Howard allowed separate dealers to sell crack from the front porch and basement of his home in the crime ridden neighborhood of West Philadelphia, while his girlfriend, Lena Laws would buy crack from anyone she could. At around 10 30 p.m. on Aug. six, Miss Laws invited small time dealer Jabar gladdened over to buy some crack. Just then, another of Mr Howard's dealers, Jamal Lawson, along with a man known as Stink, entered the home, both armed to settle a drug debt.

[00:00:33]

They shot and killed Mr. Howard and robbed their small time rival, Tomago Gladden, in the process with the eyewitness testimony of his laws who had just smoked crack. Investigators would manufacture a theory of events that would place Jama'a gladdening as acting along with the two armed robbers, Jamal Lawson and Stink. But who was stage? Well, Jamal's childhood friend Terrence Lewis was known as Dink and an anonymous tip with named Terrence as the other armed robber. Surprised it didn't quite matter to the Philadelphia police that he wasn't the right one.

[00:01:07]

All three men were sentenced to life without parole on the word of mouth laws. Eventually, though, several eyewitnesses, including both of his co-defendants, will come forward to deny Terrence's involvement. Two Supreme Court rulings would also aid his cause. Then, working together, Terrence's lawyers, along with the Philadelphia Conviction Integrity Unit, led by Patricia Cummings, would uncover a serious Brady violation, revealing that the police knew the real identity of stink all the way back in nineteen ninety six.

[00:01:38]

This is wrongful conviction with Jason Pflum. If you'd like to help support us as we continue to tell these stories of triumph over tragedy, unequal justice and actual innocence each week, you can do it now with the purchase of a I mean, it's really nice. Trust me, you can get a brand new wrongful conviction podcast, T-shirt, coffee mug or reusable water bottle. Go to wrongful conviction podcast dotcom. That's wrongful conviction podcast dotcom and click on store.

[00:02:13]

This episode is sponsored by the pro bono program. AIG is a leading global insurance company and the AIG pro bono program provides free legal services, as well as other support to many non-profit organizations, as well as individuals who are most in need.

[00:02:30]

And they recently announced that working to reform the criminal justice system will become a key pillar of the program's mission. Welcome back to Wrongful Conviction with Jason Pflaum today. You're going to hear the story of Terrence Lewis Terrence. First of all, welcome to the show. As I always say, I'm happy you're here, but I'm sorry you had to be here in the first place. Yeah, I appreciate that. Thank you, Jason. And then I'm really excited to be able to share your remarkable story and your humanity and your spirit with our audience.

[00:03:07]

So let's get right into it. So, first of all, you grew up in Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia. Yes. I mean, I know having spoken with Meek Mill on another episode of the show, of course, he's younger than you are, but he talks about growing up in the streets of Philadelphia and how trying to stay alive was a challenge in and of itself. You know, being exposed at a young age to murders occurred, police brutality.

[00:03:33]

That was Norm, you know, for those who were underprivileged or come from poor neighborhoods.

[00:03:41]

You were as a young man, subject to dodging not only bullets from gangs, but also trying to avoid the confrontations that have now become so much a part of the public consciousness as we see an era now where everyone has a video camera in their pocket. But back then it was in the shadows. True. And we're talking about the 90s when things were pretty crazy everywhere. But in Philadelphia, especially, especially as a young black man growing up there, what was that like?

[00:04:11]

You know, in West Philadelphia where I grew up, it was crime infested, the war on drugs. The street was in disarray, me growing up in a single parent household. My father was overseas and the military dedicated his life. So I grew up with me and my siblings underneath the care of my mother, who, with no other than a high school diploma, tried to struggle and keep a roof over our head.

[00:04:44]

You know, I've been working since nineteen ninety four the legal age with the consent of my mother to be able to work as a youth counselor. So from ninety four all the way up until my abduction, you know, I always work.

[00:04:57]

Let's fast forward to 10, 30 p.m around 10, 30 p.m. on August 6th of nineteen ninety six. Is that on that night three young men entered the home of a guy named Hewlin Howard. And according to Howard's girlfriend, Leanna Laws, they were there to settle a drug debt. One of the men fired a shotgun into the ceiling. Again, this is her version of events before shooting and killing Mr. Howard when he couldn't pay what he owed. So she later changed that story because there were no holes found in the ceiling and she changed the story to that.

[00:05:34]

The man had loaded a shotgun shell. Then another one of the men shot Mr. Howard with a handgun and they stole twenty dollars from his laws and fled the scene.

[00:05:43]

You write in regards to her version of that, whichever one, because there were many, one of her narratives is that three guys arrived together. That's not true.

[00:05:55]

One of the three men, Jama'a gladdened, is a victim himself. And a record reflects this, that when Jama'a gladdened was summoned by llena was to come near. Unfortunately, Jamal Lawson and his cohort also arrived here. Freak chance, right. But nonetheless, true story. And the Philadelphia Police Department into TWANT.

[00:06:17]

And we had a whole case together and kill three birds with one stone, although you were the bird that wasn't even in the nest. Exactly. So Mrs. Laws, according to her, she knew one of the men, a guy named Jamal Law. So you mentioned as Melo, his nickname was, and he had dealt drugs out of the basement of the guy who was murdered, Mr Howard. She also knew the guy with the shotgun by his nickname, which was Stink.

[00:06:44]

Exactly.

[00:06:45]

When Lena Los was telling the police what happened that night, what transpired, she didn't want to tell a narrative that I called Jamal GLADD and she just said, hey, look, three guys came and she said, who was Jamal? Gladdened Jamal was. And then he said, who was the third other individual?

[00:07:04]

They say it goes by the name of thing who we come to find the note said the day and the cops knew this the second day after the interview.

[00:07:12]

What did you know any of these people? Gemara gladdened is a childhood friend of mine who said the same, but true was a petty drug dealer back then. Him and llena was had a personal drug relation. And unfortunately for him, he so happened to get involved with that crack house, Mr Howard, home. He was running like a crack enterprise and he had some individual cell from the porch and he had Jamel Lawson cell from the basement and that created a rivalry.

[00:07:46]

So when Jamal Walson heard that Jamal was also peddling drugs out of what he deemed to be his enterprise because he had more drugs and he was the neighborhood drug dealer in agressor, he came there with another armed individual to confront Mr Howard and Jamal Lawson and his cohorts robbed everybody.

[00:08:10]

In this scenario that you just painted is given me like anxiety, just thinking about it. You have the two different guys showing up at the same time. One of them brings another guy with him. In this drug den, there's all sorts of different tensions. There's a competition for the drug trade at the time. There's money that's owed. There's guns.

[00:08:32]

There's the woman who's almost certainly high at the time in the record reflect that she smoked crack cocaine 15 minutes prior to the actual murders up.

[00:08:45]

You know, I can remember being drunk or high in different times, but how high do you have to be to mix up whether or not somebody shot a shotgun into the ceiling?

[00:08:54]

That was one of the statements that was made. Remember, I was the guy allegedly with the shotgun, but she had told a different officer at the time, Sergeant Mandella, that the guy who fired the shotgun in the air, he turned and he shot Mr Howard and the guy was named.

[00:09:14]

This is a whole nother different version of events in regards to what happened then.

[00:09:18]

One, like you said, never was no shot and fired in the Silin, nor was Mr Howard killed from a shotgun from his back. Now, mind you, llena laws also said that she don't know one gun from another. However, when they come to find out, there's no shotgun. And so she said, oh, no, he didn't fire it. Then fire, then fire it. He wrapped it.

[00:09:39]

So my lawyer was smart enough and was enough to say, well, where did you learn the term rat?

[00:09:44]

Because prior to that, you believe he fired it, right? She said, yeah, yeah. I learnt the term rat from the detectives. This is all in a record. This is this is in the trial transcripts. Yes.

[00:09:54]

So they just scripted it like a play. They gave her the lines to say and she said them. Exactly. So it was obvious that she lied.

[00:10:02]

But we don't know the details and regards to why or to what extent the Philadelphia Police Department to her. But we do know for a fact they help her piece together a story. Why? We don't know the cause.

[00:10:15]

The case over the summer of nineteen ninety seven. So this is some time after the crime police arrested Jamal Gladden, who was nineteen, and Jamal Lawson, who was twenty two. And the investigation grew cold after that until an anonymous tip came into the Pennsylvania Crime Commission. And that's where you got wrapped up at 17 years old, somebody called in and said that you were sometimes known by the nickname of Stink and you were arrested. Now, this is almost a year and a half after the crime on December 20th of nineteen ninety seven.

[00:10:50]

Had you ever been known as stink?

[00:10:53]

My grandmother, sir, as a child, I used to think my diapers. So this little you those things.

[00:11:00]

But yeah, I was that was my name. So the police say, you know what, Jamal knows a guy named Stink as well.

[00:11:08]

And that's how I was involved, because they said, well, hey, Terrence, he knows Jamal Gladding. So if he's from amongst that neighborhood and if he knows of individuals that do wrong, that he is evil, feed himself. And it was an open and shut case for the Philadelphia Police Department. It took a lot of people to sort of go along with this. And any one of them could have stood up and said, wait a minute, this doesn't make any sense.

[00:11:37]

Why are we listening to this woman? And you have an anonymous tip that maybe or maybe not you were called stink, but was there any other evidence connecting you to this crime?

[00:11:46]

No other evidence whatsoever. My life hinged on testimony of admitted crack user who was high literally fifteen moments before it happened.

[00:11:58]

But in addition to that, like we can't forget what add to my wrongful incarceration.

[00:12:03]

The fact that at that time, Jason, the culture of Philadelphia D.A. office as well as police department, it was the war on drugs, it was their war. They was at war. So I became I became a casualty of war.

[00:12:17]

The evidence pointed to something other. But generally speaking, the Philadelphia Police Department, it was getting overtime to solve cases.

[00:12:24]

In the more cases they saw, the more overtime they get. So it made sense. The case is quicker and this is what they do up until this day. What we witness witnessing now, I was poor. I was I was nothing. I was a part. I was black.

[00:12:39]

I can be discarded, but I'm forgive me for dropping off. Like I said, I get emotional when I think of how they just destroyed my life, you know? Growing up in the projects, I remember how the police used to swarm the neighborhood drug dealers and be done since it was no cameras at the time when they left, after they got finished kicking a hole in the wall, trying to kick a hole in the head. They just sometimes they arrest them and sometimes they just leave them here.

[00:13:19]

And I said that the say because I used to witness this a couple of times a week. You know, Jason, this was the way and culture at that time of the Philadelphia Police Department. They wasn't bashing the guys heads and then they was definitely pinning cases on them and locking them up. So when I when I look back in retrospect, all I can do now still shake my head. And when I look at what's going on around us with George Floyd, this has been going on forever.

[00:13:49]

You a whole case was manufactured against me at the age of 17 and spent 21 years of my life. So this is why I want to tell my story.

[00:13:59]

Now, the arrests happen and the charges are extremely serious. Lawson and Gladdened were both charged with first degree murder, armed robbery and criminal conspiracy. And you were charged with second degree murder, armed robbery and criminal conspiracy? Well, my attorney came to visit me, only visit me twice during this. And again, I was facing second degree murder. And I've already been sitting in, I believe, for 17, maybe 19 months at the county jail.

[00:14:27]

And I got a whole case. They said that I was there and I wrecked Saga. So I finally came to see me one of the two times he said, hey, look, they got nothing on you.

[00:14:36]

And I'm letting them know, like you just made up. This lady is lying. He says the defense we're going to show that with all her numerous inconsistencies that this is impossible, whichever version the jury so choose to believe. So, OK, fine.

[00:14:49]

And they put you all on trial together in May of nineteen ninety nine, which means basically you had a snowball's chance in hell of proving your innocence.

[00:14:58]

That's where the Monkeywrench came in, I believe is that they tried me with Jamal Lawson. They had it right with one of the guys, you know, I mean that he was actually there was a drug dealer who is the triggerman.

[00:15:09]

The state's case, and this is important, rested entirely on the testimony of his laws at trial. She identified you gladdened and Lawson as the three other men that entered the home to settle the drug. That was Hoolahan Howard. Initially, again, she had said that shotgun was carried by stink, was fired into the ceiling and then used to kill Howard. Then at this point, she changed her account of events. You holding the shotgun, loading the shotgun shell, but not firing.

[00:15:38]

And then she fingered Lawson with a handgun as the shooter. I mean, she couldn't keep her gun straight, her story straight, her people straight. And she also testified that the three of you had sold cocaine from the home for the 50 days leading up to the shooting. Now, again, this is important, right? No weapons were ever recovered and no forensic evidence linking you to the scene. But nonetheless, on May 24th of nineteen ninety nine, all of you were sentenced to life in prison without parole.

[00:16:10]

What the hell was that like?

[00:16:12]

I mean, here you are. You're still a kid right now. I'm still a kid. I'm still a kid.

[00:16:18]

Reliving that is definitely troublesome, to say the least. I'm sitting there. The verdict came down guilty, guilty of all charges, second degree murder.

[00:16:34]

And it's like, well, my soul, my soul lifted out of my body, like my soul.

[00:16:41]

However, because I knew for being an accounting for seventy. So I think it was ninety excuse me, one of the two that I seen guys, they was just sending them away.

[00:16:52]

This is why now due to the progression of the DEA office with the Conviction Integrity Unit, Miss Patricia comments.

[00:16:58]

You know, she's right in a lot of wrongs. I see a lot of individuals go to jail for life, literally for crimes that they didn't commit. Right. Once they said guilty, I knew that I had an uphill battle. I knew I had an uphill battle.

[00:17:16]

So nineteen months in jail and that's just jail before the trial. And then, of course, twenty one and a half years in prison. Can you explain to us, though, Terrance, jail and prison, what was life like in the jail, first of all, as a teenager and then spending, you know, really half your life in prison?

[00:17:41]

The thank you to for that, Jason, because it's definitely a difference. When I was in jail during the nineteen months, it was the most miserable time of my life. My son was my son was just born.

[00:17:57]

I had to watch all them sunny days through sunny days.

[00:18:03]

They were gloomy for me, especially, like I said, witness and everybody else, the railroad anticipating like then what what is my fate as a child? Like you said, I was I was a kid by then. I was 19 years old. You never had a brush with the law. I know.

[00:18:19]

I know nothing from nothing, I think. And I didn't know who to trust in there, you know? And I was facing a life sentence and I was taken away from my son. I was taken away from my family thinking from my mother.

[00:18:31]

I was just empty. That was jail. That's the best way I can describe jail.

[00:18:36]

When I went to prison and I went to prison, they already put a hole in my heart, taking me away from my baby boy, you know, when I went to prison.

[00:18:46]

And yet. It was jail, put a hole in my heart. Prison took it. Prison to prison. And it could have destroyed me, but it did. And I still have a level of Greeks with me. But the trauma and the experience of prison. You can't Google it for me to be able to tell it where you can actually film me and relate, it was every negative emotion you can possibly think of.

[00:19:20]

I experienced it in prison, you know, true, true resentment, true anger.

[00:19:26]

They were real emotions that I was introduced to and present, you know, because of the people, you know, staff see out here.

[00:19:35]

We have police and prison. They call it CEOs, but they are police. Same thing goes on what goes on out here, and I had to navigate through that at a young age, so. I guess I'm not an average Joe because prison is like a layer of my soul, it desensitize me to a lot, but due to my natural disposition, I am who I am before I got here and before I went in there, you know, so that's what prison was.

[00:20:11]

I was a horrible experience, that prison.

[00:20:15]

Well, I'm glad you brought that up, because I've been saying anybody that will listen that while we are all experiencing the same anger and grief and outrage at these killings that we see on video, the George Floyds and all the others, we can't forget that there's all the other ones that are taking place behind the walls and that we can't see those.

[00:20:48]

They're not on video. But we know that approximately five thousand people die in our jails and prisons in America every year. And not a lot of those are from old age.

[00:20:59]

I remember working the MRSA maintenance repair shop. This is when I was a CIA kispert and the jail was closing down two thousand and four.

[00:21:12]

And there was a box of photos, some box of photos. And I'm cleaning this out. So I'm look I'm look in a box to see what it is, could be anything and see how heavy it is.

[00:21:24]

And there was a bunch of pictures. It was Polaroid pictures, pictures from back in the day, the 80s, pictures from the 70s, the box and all these photos were pictures of dead bodies. I can't make this shit up nor without.

[00:21:42]

It was pictures of dead bodies, either with some sheets wrapped around their neck as if they hung themselves. I don't know when they're right. So maybe they did it, maybe they did.

[00:21:54]

Although I'm just telling you what I seen. I seen the sheets wrapped around these guys and. Of course, you know, there were pictures. I mean, all types of wounds, you know, some stab wounds and stuff like that.

[00:22:07]

But a lot of that from the history institutions, the penitentiaries which some of the guys in there called the modern day plantations. And they got an argument that they had on calling it that, that there Jason just reminded me of their dumb holes and individuals wasn't due to old age and the sheets wrapped around their neck wasn't due to old age, you know.

[00:22:35]

And I remember when I was there, the guards, it was like some back in the day. All types, though, the guards, if they didn't like you. They line glad I navigated successfully through that experience that I went through, if the guards like you was a smartass, you was hard up.

[00:22:55]

They have pay someone, give them extra whatever extra piece to do what I seen on those pictures.

[00:23:03]

I know for a fact because when I was there, the guards were still from their culture, their tradition, that they wanted some entertainment and they didn't like the guy or they have put his case out there, this guy such and such.

[00:23:15]

This guy did this and they turn a blind eye and the guys talk about the work that was I seen a guy get his hair split wide open with a lock and suck. You'd be amazed at what a lock and sock can do.

[00:23:29]

So, yeah, Jason, you're right, this is the stuff that goes on behind walls, that falls on deaf ears out here up until now with the recent injustice that's being exposed, it's a slow moving tragedy, disaster, a human rights catastrophe that we treat people behind bars as if they're not human. In fact, as soon as they get arrested, you become something else other than just a regular person.

[00:23:59]

And mind you, this is nothing new. You know, if you trace back the origin of what's now mass incarceration, it go all the way back to, you know, the black holes and convict lease and, you know, slavery then literally morphed, you know, more or it was given a different name. But a rose by any other name is still a rose. The 13th Amendment made an exception to the rule. The rule is that slavery has been abolished with the exception.

[00:24:32]

If you was duly convicted of a crime and although in my case I wasn't duly convicted, I was wrongfully convicted of a crime. But to me that's a model. But the calls, the black holes, which are now on the mandatory sentencing, the draconian policies, I mean, are still in place. That's literally designed to keep and to entrap free labor.

[00:24:57]

And I worked for 19 cents an hour for twenty one and a half years. And I had to fly straight, of course, you know, that's who I was as a person, regardless of my circumstances.

[00:25:08]

But yeah, 99 cent an hour I worked for then and had I didn't, you know, I would have been penalized for that. What do that sound like?

[00:25:16]

And I like, you know, the first level of punishment could have got that would have gotten that.

[00:25:26]

Yeah, that's it. That's exactly 19 cents away from free. So 19 cents an hour is for lack of a better. Well, no, let's just call it is Nancy. Slave labor.

[00:25:48]

Let's talk about this crazy appellate process, try to follow along with this and imagine you being an Terrance's shoes for this insane journey I'm about to take you through. So January 2002 to the first petition is filed under the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Review Act for inadequate counsel because Terrence's attorney failed to call the officer who took law's initial statement that contradicted her trial testimony. I mean, you know, a prelaw student would know to do that, OK? It was dismissed in 2003 and the appeal was rejected in 2004 and the Supreme Court refused any further appeal in 2005.

[00:26:32]

OK, now we go to September two thousand five second petition on inadequate counsel because the attorney failed to investigate alibi witnesses. The petition was also based on a signed affidavit by Jama'a gladdened admitting his presence at the crime scene and denying Terrence's involvement.

[00:26:47]

That should be enough of Terrence a I'm talking about if you're not here. But this Terrans filed a state habeas corpus petition days after that second petition. But the habeas was put on hold while the petition was being pursued March 26. Now, Terrance's younger sister was working at a bar called the Jack of Hearts Lounge. This is amazing. She struck up a conversation with a patient named Kizzie Baker, who happened to be on the street that night and witnessed the three men leaving Howard's house after hearing a gunshot.

[00:27:20]

Incredible.

[00:27:21]

Baker knew Terence and said that he was now one of the three men. And Terence had a lawyer now who filed an amended state petition for a new trial. It was dismissed, though, as untimely, filed a technical, whatever you want to call it, the same procedural problem. Right? It has nothing to do with guilt or innocence. It's pursued. But the denial was upheld anyway on appeal because why let justice get in the way of a procedural error anyway?

[00:27:52]

Then an attorney named David Gay was appointed to represent Terrence in his federal habeas corpus petition with a signed affidavit from Jamaal Lawson saying that the first time he ever met, they ever met was at the trial. So, I mean, now things are getting back. It's just mounting. So on April 29, 2009, at the federal habeas hearing, both Kizzie Baker and Terrance's sister, Tanisha Thornton, testified. Jamal gladdened also testified that he told his defense lawyer about Terrence, but was advised to keep that information to himself because it was an admission of guilt.

[00:28:30]

March 2010. Magistrate Wells denied the petition on Get Ready procedural grounds, and I'm quoting now, Based upon credible testimony, the court believes that Lewis may not have been present at or participated in the tragic events of August six. Nineteen ninety six. He may be actually innocent, end quote. And Magistrate Wells went on to say that it was, quote unquote, frustrating to have to recommend to the U.S. district judge assigned to the case that Lewis's petition be denied frustrating.

[00:29:06]

And that's not very well right. So meanwhile, you're still sitting there in prison and just, you know, trying to stay alive.

[00:29:15]

And then in June 2010, U.S. District Judge Burl Schiller accepted the magistrate's recommendation and denied the habeas petition. But now comes the turning point. This is where that starts to be a little light at the end of the tunnel. But it was really a long tunnel. And what I'm talking about is in June 2012, the US Supreme Court decided Miller versus Alabama holding that the mandatory imposition of life without parole for juveniles convicted of murder was unconstitutional. The legendary Bryan Stevenson argued that case.

[00:29:50]

Terrance was 17 at the time of the murder. So it fit into this into this group.

[00:29:57]

However, at first when Miller came out, Madu, it wasn't retroactive. And Muste So that wasn't enough. And that I could depend on Miller versus Alabama was not applied retroactively until two thousand sixty one Montgomery versus Louisiana came out.

[00:30:15]

You know, I was real appreciative that I fell amongst that class, that now I don't have to entertain the thought that perhaps I got to die in jail in order to get the benefits of the Miller versus Alabama ruling, I had to withdraw my innocent claims as well as you're going to have to make up a story now and see into our narrative in order for you to get parole. I didn't have it in me mentally.

[00:30:40]

I couldn't wrap my head around that. So I'm like, damn, I'm I got to do an extra. Ten years until you really see that, no, I'm standing on my principle. I'm standing on the truth. So 2016 came.

[00:30:53]

I seen a lot of guys who I helped raise go home for crimes that they actually committed.

[00:30:59]

They committed their crimes. So I had to tussle with the fact that I had to concede to a lie.

[00:31:06]

That's what the system was acting for me, as opposed to honoring what the evidence had already been pointing to since day one. Right. So 2016, I was convinced to withdraw my innocent claims.

[00:31:21]

I was going to court to get resentenced and that strategically we can refile when I'm home on the streets and the deal will be 20 to life.

[00:31:35]

This is the sentence as an innocent man, this is what I had to rejoice upon.

[00:31:40]

So I signed on to have the 20 to life.

[00:31:43]

However, when we went to the sentencing hearing and again, I got to highlight this fact, Jason, it wasn't the system that got it right.

[00:31:54]

It was a lone judge, Judge Barbara McDermott, being honorable, having some nobility.

[00:32:02]

She's seen the order of Judge Wells, my magistrate judge, and the adoption of the district court saying that I was innocent.

[00:32:12]

And she refused despite whatever draconian policy was in place.

[00:32:17]

She was uncomfortable with moving forward with my resentencing.

[00:32:21]

She said, I'm not sentencing you. What sentence is appropriate to give to an innocent man? So my resentencing hearing had turned into an exoneration here. It was a blessing, literally, like I feel as though the heavens literally was cracked open and I was showered with unlimited blessings that day because just so happened, Barbara McDermott had got in touch with the supervisor of the Conviction Integrity Unit down at the Philadelphia district attorney's office, Patricia Cummins. And they had already completed their investigation.

[00:32:55]

But due to the procedural hurdles of the law, they felt as though they couldn't do anything until after my sentencing, because remember, to go now on a mission was just to get on its own and then we'll figure everything else out later.

[00:33:08]

What was it that the CIA found in their investigation? They had at the request of my attorney, David Leisa and Kevin Hart, and they came across documents, which was called 60 or Street Notes, and there was an interview, Ugly, in a lawsuit wherein she had told the Philadelphia Police Department that the guy who she believed to be the perpetrator and this was literally days after the crime occurred, that his name was Hakeem's the day Mahomet. And not only did she stop there, she was very descriptive and he had an ankle bracelet on and he drove a blue car.

[00:33:51]

Now, one, my name is not and never, ever and life prior to this had a brush with the law. So I never was on house arrest. So I never wore an ankle bracelet and nor did I ever owned a blue car.

[00:34:09]

So once in the CIA, you seen this document, among others, they being honorable, being who they are and what integrity. They turn this over to my defense team, which we know for a fact everyone who has a legal eye or ear or understand that this was a clear Brady violation.

[00:34:30]

This right here could have been the piece of evidence, not that I needed it to prove that the witness was lying and that she was coerced to make up the story for whatever reasons.

[00:34:40]

So this day, we don't know, you know, but nonetheless, I think is the day Mohammed, what was that moment like when the judge said you're innocent?

[00:34:51]

When Judge Barbara McDermott turned, she looked me in my eyes and said I was innocent.

[00:34:59]

You are a free man, so you are free to go. I'm still feeling the echo of her words, those particular words, that phrase you use, you are free to go, you are a free man.

[00:35:14]

I'm still feeling the vibration in my heart and in my soul and in my bloodstream.

[00:35:20]

Unreal to be able to step out of doors. It was surreal, Jason.

[00:35:25]

You know, that was just a little over a year ago, you know, so I'm still appreciating and witnessing and then feeling the effects of walking out after being confined in a mountain had lift off of my shoulders.

[00:35:43]

You know, despite the fact the world that I had came home to at a couple of months later, it was falling apart, cold as well as what has taken place with the late George Flori, the felon's a year from. From coming from captivity to twenty one and a half years, that's a long time, my friend.

[00:36:05]

That's a long time because each year is like compounded when you're behind at war. So, you know, a year out here and I'm just telling from experience this year went past so fast, about a year, a year this year so fast when a near a year is like frickin 10 years. First of all, it's been it's hard to believe it's only been a year since I read that article in the newspaper and it's been, you know, a real blessing for me to get to know you.

[00:36:33]

And we had some some good meals together and stuff that we had and they were going to have a lot more. And now I'm really, really happy to announce that as we're recording this now. Just a couple of days ago, a few days ago, Terrence filed a civil suit against the detectives and the city of Philadelphia last year and just a few days ago, as we're talking now, they settled the suit for six point two, five million dollars.

[00:37:02]

And amen to that. I mean, you deserve more.

[00:37:05]

I'm still allowing it to register that I am now well off. I'm privileged.

[00:37:14]

I'm privileged to be able to live a comfortable, secure life. I don't know what they look like. So I got an idea.

[00:37:23]

So, yeah, I'm still processing this because, you know, I'm still high for lack of a better term with this euphoria of my exoneration just being home, period.

[00:37:37]

So now not only am I'm a free man, I'm a wealthy, free man.

[00:37:42]

I'm a free man, so this the newfound gift that I have received for this restitutions, compensation, this gift, and I say that because after going through my journey, I literally can say everything that has come my way.

[00:38:03]

Jason is, in fact, a blessing, a gift from the heavens above, man, because, you know, my cross fell on deaf ears from amongst, you know, mankind.

[00:38:14]

So all I everything was taken from me, everything. So only thing that I did have was my belief and my faith that it got to get better than this. God Almighty.

[00:38:25]

That's the only thing that I had the wit to continue on, you know, and navigating through the trials and tribulations and all the adversities that I don't like. I said my tests and trials started very early in life. So that's why I attribute it as a blessing, a gift that the city is an agent of where the actual gift came from.

[00:38:48]

God Almighty, regular listeners of our show have come to, I think, expect the part of this show that I always talk about how much I enjoy, which is our closing arguments. And this is where I turn my microphone off first. Thank you, Terrence Lewis, for taking your time out to be here with us. Thank you, my friend. And I'm going to make a special request, and I've never done this before. But as you take us through the closing arguments, which is just the final thoughts on any topic you want, I'm going to specifically ask if you wouldn't mind if you could talk about the work that you're doing now, which I think is so meaningful, and it's going to help so many other wrongfully convicted people.

[00:39:32]

And we're going to put a link so you can follow Terrance's work and get involved in helping others through his incredible new organization, which I am a proud supporter of. By the way, there will be a link in the episode description. Go to the link, click on it, join us. Absolutely.

[00:39:52]

And I thank you again, my friend. Thank you. Since I've been home and let me put it in this context real quick. I've been locked up for seven thousand eight hundred and twenty three days. And since I've been home, which has been over a little over three hundred and sixty five days, I was successful.

[00:40:12]

And establishing the Deliberation Foundation and the Liberation Foundation is a nonprofit organization which is aimed at helping navigate through the legal system, provide advocacy work, as well as support for those who have been wrongfully convicted and those who are subjugated and under a disproportionate sentence.

[00:40:35]

My belief is because of what I experienced, because of what I've had seen with my own two eyes, I believe in the motto. The mantra is that when you know better, you do better. So based upon sincerity, I have, as well as those who share my belief, we have a moral obligation to right the wrongs and be courageous and be sincere and see what we mean and mean what we say and be sincere about it.

[00:41:06]

So I ask that I get the support and help from anyone who wants to be involved in support the Liberation Foundation.

[00:41:15]

And we can be found that Laws Foundation dot com is advocacy work for those who have been wrongfully convicted. The primary goal is to secure freedom and justice for those innocent. They deserve liberation as well.

[00:41:35]

Don't forget to give us a fantastic review. Wherever you get your podcast, it really helps. And you know, I'm a proud donor to the Innocence Project and I really hope you'll join me in supporting this very important cause and in so doing, helping to prevent future wrongful convictions. It's easy. Go to Innocence Project Dog to learn how to donate and get involved. I want to thank our amazing producers, engineers and editors, Connor Hall and Kevin Ortiz.

[00:42:04]

The music in the show is by three time Oscar nominated composer DJ Ralph. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at wrongful conviction and on Facebook at wrongful conviction podcast. Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of lava for podcasts in association with Signal something No. One Northparkes. For NPR ex.