CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago woman was back with her family on Monday after seven years behind bars, now that her conviction has been overturned.
Nicole Harris walked free from the women’s prison at Dwight Correctional Center on Monday, after a federal appeals court tossed out her conviction on charges of killing her 4-year-old son, Jaquari.
“We were able to bring her son with us when we came to pick her up, and she just held onto him, and didn’t want to let go,” said attorney Alison Flaum, with Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions.
Flaum said Harris left prison hopeful for the future, not angry about the past.
“She has always said that being innocent means that you know you have the truth behind you,” Flaum said.
After 27 hours of interrogation back in 2005, Harris confessed to killing Jaquari. She pleaded not guilty, but was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Rob Warden, Executive Director of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, said Harris’ seven-year-old son Diante was ready to testify he’d seen his Jaquari wrap an elastic cord around his own neck.
“The judge wouldn’t admit that. He said the seven-year-old was incompetent to testify,” said Warden.
The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the verdict, and Harris walked free this morning from Dwight Correctional Center, and now is waiting to see if Cook County prosecutors plan to retry her.
The state has asked the Supreme Court to look at the appellate court ruling. And the Cook County state’s attorney’s office must decide if it will retry Harris. That decision still pending.