A Michigan man who spent more than 37 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of a crime has now been freed, it is widely reported .
Walter Forbes, 63, was released from prison on November 20 after spending more than 37 years in prison.
According to the Detroit Free Press , his release came after the prosecution’s star witness admitted that she had fabricated her story.
According to the Free Press, back in 1982 when Forbes was a full-time student at Jackson Community College he broke up a bar fight, an act that would change his life forever.
According to court documents, a man involved in the bar fight shot Forbes the next day. The same man was later killed in a fire that appeared to have been started deliberately.
Since Forbes and the man in question, Dennis Hall, had been involved in a dispute, police considered Forbes a suspect in the arson. He was eventually convicted of arson and murder in May 1983 and sentenced to life in prison.
Forbes was freed after the prosecution’s star witness admitted to fabricating her story.
“It felt like all the possibilities that I was working on all those years were coming to fruition,” Forbes said. “I didn’t think it would take that long, but patience paid off.”
According to court documents from a evidentiary hearing in February of this year cited by PEOPLE, the witness testified “that she had falsely implicated Mr. Forbes because she had been intimidated into doing so by two local men who knew her from around the neighborhood and who had threatened to harm her and her family if she did not implicate Mr. Forbes.”
PEOPLE notes that since the statute of limitations for perjury is six years, the witness faces no charges.
In addition to this, prosecutors say that the building’s owner was later convicted for another arson-for-insurance-money scheme.
While the person in question has not officially been implicated in Hall’s death, attorneys say his subsequent criminal activity casts reasonable doubt on Forbes’ conviction.
When asked by the Free Press about his best moments after being freed, Forbes said, “Seeing my family for the first time.”
“It was one of those moments where all you can do is grin.”