BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore man sentenced to life in prison for murdering a 16-year-old girl was set free Wednesday. WJZ spoke with him one-on-one about his freedom.
Rick Ritter explains how he was exonerated.
Emotional video shows the moment Malcolm Bryant was released from jail Wednesday. DNA evidence cleared Bryant of a murder conviction that left him behind bars for 17 years.
“Right now, my head is still numb,” he told WJZ. “I’m still trying to soak it all in and giving thanks and praise to God.”
The 42-year-old spoke at length with WJZ Wednesday night, describing the second he was released.
“I’ve never walked on the moon before, but it was like high stepping on the ground. Not having shackles on and being a free man, it’s amazing,” Bryant said.
Bryant was convicted in 1999 for the murder of 16-year-old Toni Bullock.
“On behalf of the criminal justice system, I’d like to apologize to Mr. Malcolm Bryant and his family for the pain they’ve endured as a result of his wrongful conviction,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “As prosecutors, our duty is to pursue justice equally and fairly under the law for victims, witnesses, accusers, and the accused.”
Bullock was walking home with a friend on Harford Road when a man pulled her into an empty lot and stabbed her to death.
“My heart breaks for the family of Toni Bullock,” said Mosby. “Please know that your daughter is not forgotten, and my office will be working with Commissioner Kevin Davis and the Baltimore Police Department to do all that we can to investigate and prosecute the man who is truly responsible for Toni’s death.”
The Baltimore Innocence Project fought for years to clear Bryant’s name.
“Finally after six rounds of DNA testing, he was able to show through DNA evidence that he was not the one who killed Toni Bullock,” said Michelle Nethercott, Baltimore Innocence Project.
“What we found was that the strength of the sole identification did not outweigh the strength of the DNA evidence, especially in light of the fact that it was an observation that was made for three or four seconds in rainy nighttime conditions, under the stress and strain of being attacked,” said Mosby.
It’s a day Bryant admits he never thought would come.
“They had to pinch me to let me know I wasn’t dreaming, that it was real,” he said.
Bryant calls the Baltimore Innocence Project “angels sent from God.” For others who are innocent and behind bars, he says his story is living proof there’s hope.
“Keep praying and don’t give up. Your angel is coming,” he said.
The Baltimore police commissioner says this is now an active case.
“We’re going to took a good, hard look at it and see what we can do to assist and bring justice to not only Toni Bullock’s family, but to our community as well,” said Commissioner Kevin Davis, Baltimore Police Department.
Bryant tells WJZ his first priority is catching up with his two sons, who are now 18 and 22 years old.
“I’ve got two sons I haven’t seen in almost 18 years, so that’s my first priority,” said Bryant.
This was the first exoneration for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office under the leadership of Marilyn Mosby.