BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Inside the courthouse in Baltimore on Monday there were tears, and hugs from family members and friends who said they have been waiting for this moment for 36 years.

Three men, Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart were arrested on Thanksgiving in 1983, accused of killing 14-year-old Dewitt Duckett in the hallway off Harlem Park Junior High School over his Georgetown jacket.

36 years later, Baltimore States’ Attorney Marilyn Mosby said a reinvestigation brought forth new evidence and testimony from witnesses that proved their innocence.

The men always maintained their innocence.

“I’ve been always dreaming of this day, dreaming of this day,” Chestnut said.

“We outside them walls but on the inside I hate to put it like this but we went through hell,” Watkins said.

“I sat on my bunk when I got the information and I cried. I didn’t know how to stop crying until a friend of mine said man your journey is coming to an end, but it’s not. My journey is just beginning because I have to learn how to live right now.” Stewart said.

The Baltimore Conviction Integrity Unit reopened the investigation and worked with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and the University of Baltimore Innocence Project after Chestnut contacted the CIU to say all three were innocent.

Investigators said they found new evidence and testimony from four witnesses who have since recanted, saying they were pressured by police into changing their statement- that pointed the finger at a different man.

“You, you and you, should never have seen the inside of a jail cell. So on behalf of this system, I apologize to you and your family,” Mosby said.

Mosby said it is up to the City now to make sure the men have the resources they need to succeed in life after prison.

Kelsey Kushner

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