In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of two murders and sent to death row for crimes he did not commit.
Thirty years and several appeals later, Hinton was finally exonerated and released after serving one of the longest terms on death row in the state of Alabama’s history.
On Thursday, Hinton and his attorney, Bryan Stevenson, Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, joined guest host Mo Ivory on NewsOne Now to discuss Hinton’s exoneration and how he survived so long on death row.
Hinton told Ivory he is “still trying to adjust” and is having trouble sleeping since his release on April 3rd.
“Other than that, I’m trying to just adjust one day at a time, one minute at a time.”
When asked how he felt about finally being freed, Hinton said:
“I couldn’t believe it, because we had been begging for 16 years to resolve the case. The state keep refuting the Attorney General that we have now in Alabama. Luther Strange had promised that he would look into the case, test the bullets, but they kept putting us off. So I never gave up hope, but I knew that they didn’t want to really test the bullets because the bullet wouldn’t match.”
“When I finally got the word — I had to really hear it… I began to tremble and I really couldn’t talk to him that much longer after he told me. I had to go just sit down before I fell down.”
“Thirty years is a long time for something that you know you didn’t do and to hear somebody say that you’re finally going to be free, it was just amazing to hear,” he added.
Hinton said that his sense of humor allowed him to survive all of those years on death row. He said, “I just had to bury myself into something that I knew could get me through day-to-day.”
“Once I started laughing and talking and making other people laugh, I felt good. I wish that anyone could have seen me the 28 years I was there on death row —the way I carried myself, the way I enacted with officers, other inmates — I never even think about what I was there for, I never ever think about being executed, because like I said before, I didn’t accept when Judge Garret said ‘I sentence you to death.’”
“I believe only God can sentence me to death, only He have the power.”
“And so I just took my sense of humor and making somebody else’s day brighter, making them feel good about themselves and at the same time, time was just ticking away.”
Near the end of the interview, Hinton said he was still a little skeptical about his release from death row because “until you hear those words, you are free in Alabama…you do not count your chickens before they hatch.”
Watch NewsOne Now guest host Mo Ivory and Anthony Ray Hinton discuss Hinton being exonerated after spending nearly 30 years on death row in the video clip above.
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