Man wrongfully convicted of murder celebrates freedom after nearly 25 years in prison. Photo: NY Daily News.
Man wrongfully convicted of murder celebrates freedom after nearly 25 years in prison. Photo: NY Daily News.

What would you do to celebrate getting out of prison, where you were sent nearly 25 years ago for a crime you didn't commit?

Derrick Deacon, a Brooklyn man who was released on Monday from prison, chose drinking orange juice and eating chili and chicken with his family and friends, according to New York Post reports.

Deacon, 58, had been convicted in 1989 of killing 16-year-old Anthony Wynn in the middle of a robbery in Brooklyn. He was given a new trial last year after an FBI cooperator said another man was the killer. A separate witness also recanted her testimony. The jury in the new trial deliberated for nine minutes before returning with a "not guilty" verdict on Monday, according to the Village Voice.

Deacon, 58, said his knees buckled when he heard the verdict.

“I was trembling. I was in tears. I couldn’t believe it. I told my lawyer, she got to hold me,” he said.

What will he do now? Deacon told the Post he hopes to open his own business, perhaps a barber shop. He also spoke of writing a book.

During his decades behind bars, Deacon missed out on a lot of technological advances, including the cellphone revolution.

From the Post:

"When I was in the streets, I remember using a phone in the case — you had to pull on the top, big phones,” he said.

“When I see [my lawyer] texting, I was like, ‘What is this?’ I was like, ‘Wow, it’s a different world man.’”

Deacon's case raises troubling questions about how he was convicted in the first place. The Village Voice reports that Deacon was convicted after investigators coerced a witness named Colleen Campbell, who knew he hadn't commited the crime.

At Deacon's retrial, Campbell said authorities had threatened to take her kids away if she testified that she knew Deacon wasn't the killer, according to the Village Voice. Another witness testified that Deacon did commit the shooting, which was enough to convict him.

After the retrial in which Deacon was found not guilty, the New York Daily News reported that the jury foreperson questioned why a retrial was even needed. "There was never a shred of evidence against Derrick Deacon. Why did they try him a second time if he's been in jail for 24 years?"

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