Emotions flowed freely inside a courtroom in Queens on Thursday as three men saw their convictions finally vacated.
Reginald Cameron, who spent 8 years behind bars, Earl Walters, who was imprisoned for 22 years, and Armond McCloud, who endured a staggering 28 years behind bars, all received a long-awaited vindication.
"I’ll be the first to tell you," McCloud said, "Twenty-nine years was not kind to me. It was not."
McCloud tallied it all up: he spent 10,607 days in prison.
"These are days you can never get back," a judge told McCloud. "I recognize that."
The motions to vacate their convictions were filed by Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
"Fairness in the criminal justice system means we must re-evaluate cases when credible new evidence of actual innocence or wrongful conviction emerges," Katz said in a statement. "Those who have served prison time for crimes they demonstrably did not commit deserve to have the slate wiped clean."
Walters was cleared in connection to the abductions and robbery of two women thanks to new fingerprint evidence.
McCloud and Cameron's confessions made in a shooting death were found to be unreliable because they were obtained by a detective who coerced them and others into false confessions.
"I was handcuffed to a refrigerator handle," Cameron said. "They said it was 13 hours, it felt like 13 days. Torturing you, playing mind games, you start to believe what they’re saying to you is true."
"[The D.A’s office] did not right a wrong—they admitted a wrong," Cameron continued. "There’s a difference."