(CBS) — A 49-year-old Chicago Heights man who spent twenty years in prison after, he claims, he was framed by police for murder, is nearing the end of a long legal journey following his acquittal in a jury trial, reports WBBM’s Mike Krauser.

Rodell Sanders is a free man for the first time twenty years largely from his own work in prison, studying law and then applying what he learned.

“This is a beautiful feeling and situation, but at the same time it is somewhat frightening and scary to just step out into the world like this again,” said Sanders.

The Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago took his case but attorney Russell Ainsworth says Sanders did the heavy lifting.

“There was no fluke, this was the result of years of dedicated hard work and some expert lawyering that he did,” said Ainsworth.

Sanders was surrounded by extended family.

“It was hard. He missed my marriage, he missed my marriage. He missed all four of my children’s births,” said Sanders’ daughter, Lynette Booth

He has a federal lawsuit pending against the officers involved.

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