After spending 32 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, Gilbert Poole Jr. is a free man. With the help of the Innocence Project at WMU-Cooley Law School, the 54-year-old walked out of a prison in Jackson this morning (5/26).

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Poole has maintained his innocence over the years. He spoke in court this morning before being released by an Oakland County judge.

"I spent decades learning, reading, studying law, but none of that was working for me," Poole said. "It wasn't until I surrendered to a higher power and God stepped in and sent me a band of angels to look past the rules and regulations and looked to see who was standing in the furnace. I was standing in the furnace. I didn't belong here."

 

Erroneously convicted

Poole was convicted in 1988 for the stabbing death of Robert Mejia, whose body was found lying in a field in Pontiac. His girlfriend claimed that he had confessed the murder to her and a dentist linked Poole to a bite mark on the victim's body.

How was Poole exonerated?

In 2015, a Michigan court of appeals ordered that a DNA test be performed on blood found at the scene. It was determined that the blood matched neither Poole nor the victim.

"Someone else fought with Robert Mejia in the woods that early morning and someone else killed him," Assistant Attorney General Robyn Frankel told the judge.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Attorney General Dana Nessel's office said the county's prosecutor's office approved of overturning the sentence.

Video of Poole walking out of prison as a free man is below.

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