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Investigator: What Prade can expect now

6:58 PM, Jan 30, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Exonerated of murder after 16 years, Darrell Houston was overcome with joy as he walked out of prison and his mother jumped into his arms.

Houston soon learned there was a new reality to his life.

"You miss so much time," Houston said.  "A lot of things change. A lot of relationships (are) severed. So it's a lot of things that you lose that you will never, ever regain."

Houston found that, sometimes, he could pick up where he left off. He got his driver's license after only a few days, even though he didn't crack a book.

But it took time to reconnect with those he knew.

"I was a stranger with everybody in my family," Houston said, including two daughters who grew up while he was inside after being convicted of the 1991 murder of his friend, Said Ali, while Ali was working at an East Side deli.

The Investigator Tom Meyer spoke with Houston a day after former Akron police captain Douglas Prade was exonerated in the killing of his ex-wife.

Prade's release was based on new DNA evidence that excluded him as an attacker.

He joins at least 15 other Ohioans, and more than 300 nationally, who have been released as a result of new DNA evidence, according to the Innocence Project.

Houston's freedom came in 2007 after an eyewitness to the Ali murder fingered another person.

"I was angry about the way the whole thing played out," said Houston. "But I never gave up hope that this day would be possible. Not one day."

He's now working as a property manager. He's also organized a group of ex-offenders who go into prisons and speak with current inmates about how to get their lives back together following prison.

Prade also wants to be productive. He plans to work for the Innocence Project, the non-profit organization that helped set him free.

"I've got 30 years of police experience and I hope they can use me to help with cases similar to mine," Prade said, after his release.

"There are thousands of innocent men and women in prison. A lot of them didn't have the advantage of DNA to rely on."


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