After 29 years, Chicago man released from prison for crime he didn't commit

It was an emotional homecoming Tuesday night for a Chicago man who served 29 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Arthur Brown was finally released from the Cook County Jail, ending a saga that started when he says police beat a false confession out of him in 1988.

There were cheers and tears as 66-year-old Brown walked out of the jail and into the arms of family members.

Brown has been behind bars for so long, he had to be shown how to use a cellphone.

"This is my first time on a cellphone,” Brown said. "Feels like a bird in the sky to be free. And now I have to pick up the pieces of my life and put them together again."

Brown was working as an electrician and handyman in 1988 when he was called to fix a broken lock at a video store on East 63rd. Hours later the store was set on fire, killing two men in an adjoining building.

Brown was among three men charged with the arson murders, though his attorney says there was no evidence linking him to the crime and no eyewitnesses.

"He was a victim of police brutality. He had a confession beaten out of him. And the prosecutors who tried the case knew that that confession was fraudulent,” said attorney Ron Safer.

"I said why did you sign it? He said they beat me, Lizzie. He said I couldn't help it,” Brown’s sister Lizzie Lyle said.

Brown's lawyers forced the court to take another look at the case, and on Tuesday a Cook County judge vacated the convictions, which prosecutors had dropped last month.

A spokesman for Cook County state's attorney Kim Foxx says: "(We) determined there were significant evidentiary issues that raised deep concerns about the fairness of Mr. Brown's conviction."

Now you might think that after being wrongly imprisoned for 29 years, Brown would be angry or bitter about his situation. But he insists he is not.

"I don't have time to be bitter, cause I'm thinking about my family. If I'm bitter, I can't even think about myself,” Brown said.

His lawyer says Brown will pursue a certificate of innocence, which would include money from the state.

But first he ate seafood, something Brown has not enjoyed in three decades.

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