BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Cheers, tears, and laughter greeted Damon Thibodeaux as he walked out of Angola Prison... a free man at last.
"You dream of it everyday, but it's not the same as actually going through it. It’s a surreal walk. It’s not something you can prepare yourself for," explained Thibodeaux.
He sat on death row for 15 years, accused of raping and murdering his 14 year-old step cousin. The evidence that put him behind bars was a confession to the crime, after a lengthy interrogation. Now, years later DNA evidence has set him free.
"We just said look, look at the physical evidence, this is plainly a false confession. Let’s go back and look at the timeline. Let’s go back and do DNA testing on the clothing that was taken from Damon on the night of the confession. It doesn't fit the facts," Berry Scheck, of The Innocence Project, said.
After serving 15 years of his life on death row, Thibodeaux’s reaction as he walked out of the gates of the state penitentiary was nothing short of elation.
"free, I feel free," he explained, to a crowd of journalists and supporters in New Orleans.
He went on to explain that he had no solid plans for the future but to simply start putting his life back together.
Damon Thibodeaux is the 300th person to be exonerated by DNA across the country, he's only the 18th person freed from death row.