Two Bronx residents who were wrongfully convicted of murdering a cab driver and spent almost 18 years behind bars were finally exonerated Thursday. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
It's the last time Cathy Watkins and Eric Glisson will have to appear in court for a murder they did not commit.
Their lives collided after they were convicted of killing cab driver Baithe Diop in 1995.
On Thursday they collided in celebration, as their murder convictions were officially tossed out.
They were leaving court for the last time, without the electronic monitoring bracelets they were forced to wear while the Bronx District Attorney investigated their claims of innocence and without the murder convictions attached to their names.
"It's very emotional," Glisson said. "It's something that I waited for a long time to come."
"I describe this emancipation," Watkins said. "I'm free. I'm free from the prison plantation."
Two gang members confessed to the crime Glisson and Watkins served time for, a fact the Bronx District Attorney's office acknowledged on Thursday.
"Your honor, significant questions remain unanswered, including numerous inconsistencies, missing details," said Nicole Keary of the Bronx District Attorney's office.
Besides Watkins and Glisson, three other men were also convicted of the Diop murder. Those convictions have been tossed, too, but the three men remain in prison in connection with another murder.
Meanwhile, Watkins and Glisson left court completely free.
"Society really needs to look and see see that this is not an isolated incident," Watkins said. "This is something that goes on every day in our judicial system."
Dismissing the charges on Thursday took less than 10 minutes, 10 minutes after they each spent nearly 18 years in prison.
The transition to a new life will take some adjustment.
"It's going to be hard for anybody to adjust," said Larry Glisson, Eric Glisson's uncle.
But now, all Watkins and Glisson can do is make up for lost time.
"This was my prior identification as an inmate," Glisson said. "This is my new identification as a student of Mercy College."