SOUTH ST. LOUIS, MO - Thirty-six years and ten days, that’s how long Rodney Lincoln was in prison before his sentence was commuted for a crime he still says he never committed.
“This is my welcome home party,” exclaims Rodney Lincoln.
He’s basking in his freedom surrounded by friends and family some of whom he’s never met. This comes after former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens commuted his sentence on his last day in office.
“For the last 36 years I’ve been a 10-year-old little girl waiting for her daddy to come home and now he’s home. It’s amazing, so surreal and sometimes I have to pinch him to make sure it’s real,” says his daughter Kellie Porter.
Lincoln was supposed to serve 15 years plus two consecutive life sentences. He was charged with murdering JoAnn Tate in her St. Louis apartment back in 1982 and attacking her two daughters with a knife.
Lincoln’s lawyer, Tricia Bushnell, with the Midwest Innocence Project says Rodney is free but he hasn’t been exonerated despite Governor Greitens acknowledging his innocence.
She says, “You look at Mr. Lincoln’s case where there’s no evidence left to convict him. The witness who identified him says it’s not him. The hair that they said matched his DNA says it wasn’t him. So, what’s left? You couldn’t even arrest him today. We can’t get justice here if we can’t fix that and so I think that’s what we have to look at. What’s the system that we want?”
Rodney wants to be a part of that change by sharing his story. He wants to give hope to others who’ve been wrongfully convicted.
For now, Rodney is trying to readjust to the outside world he hasn’t been a part of for more than 30 years and he’s embracing it with open arms.
“I went back to my old neighborhood and it wasn’t my old neighborhood anymore or something. Now just like this,my life is something new,” he says.
Rodney’s attorney plans to file another petition for clemency this time hoping he’ll be exonerated for the crime.