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Innocent Man Free After 26 Years In Prison

A man locked away 26 years for murder was granted a new trial and freed on bond Friday with the help of two attorneys who came forward with a client's confession after he died in prison.

Alton Logan's family took up a collection in the lobby of the Cook County Criminal Courthouse and quickly came up with the $1,000 they needed to post bond.

A dozen friends and family broke into applause as Logan, 54, exited the building. He tearfully said it felt "great" to be free before he was whisked away in a black SUV.

Logan's younger brother, Eugene Logan, was adamant that he would be freed after his retrial.

"Nobody deserves to be locked away for 26 years for something they didn't do," said Logan, 48, of Portland, Ore. "It's a blessing today that my brother's been released. He's not been exonerated yet, but we're going back to court, and it will happen."

in March, two attorneys recently revealed that their former client, Andrew Wilson, admitted to committing the crime that has sent Logan to prison, but attorney-client privilege had kept them from coming forward.

Wilson's death last year allowed the attorneys to unseal an affidavit stating that Logan was not responsible for the fatal shooting of security guard Lloyd Wickliffe at a McDonald's restaurant in January 1982.

Dale Coventry, one of the attorneys who signed the affidavit, said Friday night that he hopes prosecutors will acknowledge they went in the wrong direction with the case.

"Poor Mr. Logan was locked up all these years for something he didn't do and that's unfortunate that it worked out the way it did," Coventry said. "I wish (the release) had happened a lot sooner, but unfortunately there was no way to do anything."

The other attorney, W. Jamie Kunz, said he's hopeful for Logan's permanent release.

"At the time the judge was ruling on the new trial, I got a tear in my eye," Kunz said Friday evening. "And after the judge set bond, and I looked at the defense table and saw Alton Logan in tears, I cried too."

Logan told 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon that during the first five or six years of his sentence he was "consumed" by anger. "Then I come to the realization that 'Why be angry over something you can't control?'"

"See, I never stopped giving up hope. I've always believed that one day is gone-somebody's gonna come forth and tell the truth. But I didn't know when," Logan told Simon.

It would be up to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office to prosecute the case because of a conflict of interest for the Cook County State's Attorney's office. Madigan's spokeswoman, Robyn Ziegler, said no decision had been made about a retrial.

"We will carefully review all the evidence in the case and then decide the appropriate next step," she said.

Logan's uncle, Arthur Gordon, 70, of Milwaukee, waited outside the jail, saying he knew his nephew was innocent.

"I knew he didn't do that because I had been talking to him over the years," Gordon said. "He kept his spirit. He said, 'Uncle I have to stay up. I can't go down. I can't go down."'

Logan's family planned to take him for a steak and lobster dinner on his first night of freedom.

"I'm going to turn him on to life," Eugene Logan said. "That's what we're going to do. We're going to live it together."

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