/  05.29.2021

Eric Riddick, a Black man who spent almost three decades in prison, was released Friday (May 28). He walked out of the Stout Center for Criminal Justice in Philadelphia with family by his side. 

“I feel great, I feel great,” Riddick said as he left the courthouse, NBC News reports. “They say it takes a village to raise a child. I guess it takes a village to raise justice, too.”

The 51-year-old felon’s first-degree murder conviction was vacated Friday as part of an agreement with the District Attorney’s Office. He was initially convicted in 1992 for allegedly murdering his childhood friend William Catlett one year prior. Based on the testimony of a single eyewitness, who later recanted his testimony, Riddick was sentenced to life in prison.

Riddick received help on his long road to freedom from several people, including his former cellmate Meek Mill. Meek and Riddick were paired together at the State Correctional Institution Chester sometime between November 2017 and April 2018. Upon his release, Meek spoke out — via social media and at Georgetown University — about the injustice he believed Riddick had been dealt, according to NBC. 

On Twitter, Meek shared his excitement by tweeting, “Shout out to Patricia Cummings and the Conviction Integrity Unit in Philly bringing joy back to people’s lives destroyed by the system!” 

“Riddick said: ‘I just wanna make it home b4 my mom die … To see that video makes my life better!! We used to talk about ‘MANIFESTATION’ in jail. They thought we was weird! Welcome home!!!!” Meek tweeted. 

Cummings is the supervisor of the Conviction Integrity Unit the Philadelphia-rapper is referring to. District Attorney Larry Krasner appointed her to the position when he became DA in 2017. In 2019, it was Cummings who met with Riddick’s lawyer and a few Georgetown students, inspired by Meek, to reevaluate Riddick’s case. 

The following month, Krasner’s office reviewed more than 1,000 pages from the prosecutor’s file, including documents indicating that Riddick was not one of the suspected shooters in his case and additional withheld evidence that would’ve exonerated Riddick. Cummings and the Conviction Integrity Unit worked out a deal to release Riddick from prison, but he needed to plead guilty to a third-degree murder charge and then get time served. Riddick took the deal and on Friday walked out of court a free man. 


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