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RALEIGH, N.C. — Gregory Taylor walked into freedom Wednesday with baby steps trained by leg shackles.
He stepped into fame after serving 17 years of a life sentence for murder; three judges declared him, clearly and emphatically, innocent. He was the first man freed by a new process propelled by N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission, the first of its kind in the nation.
Taylor, 47, wasted more than half his adult life in prison after what his lawyers declared a reckless rush to judgment by Raleigh police and Wake County, N.C., prosecutors. Their mistakes cost him 6,149 days. In those, his daughter graduated from college and walked down the wedding aisle unescorted. His grandson, Charles, learned to walk and talk. His sister lost a battle with cancer.
Wednesday, Taylor cried until his horned-rimmed glasses fogged and laughed until his whole body shook.
"Sometimes I’d like to be more angry than I am," Taylor said. "It’s not a sustainable emotion. Right now, I’m just the most elated person in the world."