Death Row Exoneration

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

After 17 years on death row, former condemned inmate Ernest Willis walked out of prison a free man yesterday.

The 59-year-old was convicted of setting a 1986 fire that killed two sleeping women in Iraan, about 230 miles west of San Antonio. But the Pecos County prosecutor says there's strong indications the fire was an accident.

Charges against Willis were dismissed Tuesday. Wednesday afternoon, he bounded down the front steps of the Huntsville Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He ran into the arms of his wife, Verilyn, whom he'd never touched. Yesterday was their fourth wedding anniversary.

Willis says he's at a loss for words about the day's events.

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