Finally, Freedom

Twenty-nine year-old Jeffrey Blake was in prison for nearly one-third of his life, all the time claiming he was the wrong man. Thursday, he walked out a free man, as CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick reports.

Blake was convicted of murdering two men in Brooklyn, New York in 1990. We spoke to him in prison last week, as he served his 36-year sentence. When asked if he had ever killed anyone, he promptly denied ever having taken a life.

Still the District Attorney had convinced a jury that Blake mowed down two men in cold blood with an uzzi on a busy city street. There was no motive, and Blake had an alibi. But the D.A. had an eyewitness.

The witness was Dana Garner, Blake's childhood friend. He testified he saw Blake fire the shots.

"It's a case in which the system didn't work," said legal aid attorney Michelle Fox.

Fox was assigned to Blake's appeals. She discovered Garner had offered himself as a witness in several other murders, so she tracked him down in 1993, and Garner admitted to her investigators, on tape, that he had lied.

But at the hearing, a nervous Garner pleaded the fifth, and the judge threw out the appeal. Still, Fox kept going. She found Garner's old girlfriend, who he claimed was with him at the killing. Police had never questioned her, but when we did, she denied ever having witnessed a murder.

Margaret Allen also says they weren't even in New York at the time.

"He's a big liar," says Allen. "He gonna say what he want to say, he don't care who gets in trouble, he doesn't care nothing about nothing. He's all about him."

Fox took all this to the Brooklyn D.A., and, in a highly unusual step, the D.A. re-opened the case, and asked a judge to set Blake free.

"Now I'm just going to live my life," says Blake.

Blake says he is focusing on the future. As for the past, he's just thankful now that New York had no death penalty then.
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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