Watch CBS News

Wrongly Convicted Man Graduates With Law Degree, Plans To Keep Helping Others The Justice System Failed

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- From wrongfully incarcerated inmate, to newly minted attorney.

A Westchester County man who did time for a murder he did not commit fulfilled a dream Monday. He graduated from law school, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported.

The average age of graduates in the Pace Law School class of 2019 is 27, which means the year many of these grads were born, "I was still in prison, and I was doing a 15-to-life sentence," Jeffrey Deskovic said.

Few have taken a more interesting path to a law degree than Deskovic.

Jeffrey Deskovic
Jeffrey Deskovic, right, graduated from Pace Law School on May 13, 2019. (Photo: CBS2)

"I feel like it's kind of surreal that I'm here with them having graduated. I can't believe the trajectory that my life has taken," Deskovic said.

He was wrongly convicted in 1990 of raping and killing Angela Correa. No DNA linked him to the crime, but the jury believed cops who said Deskovic confessed.

Then in 2006, DNA retesting nailed the real killer, Steven Cunningham.

With his lawyers from the Innocence Project at his side, Deskovic walked free.

MOREWrongfully Convicted Jeffrey Deskovic Sets Out To Help Others

Aiello first interviewed Deskovic in September 2006, on the courthouse plaza. The day he was released from custody, Aiello vividly remembered showing him an old Blackberry. He'd never held a smartphone before. He was amazed it contained a camera.

Even then, Deskovic told Aiello he wanted to help others wrongfully convicted.

"Prison is isolating, so I lost all of my friends," Deskovic said.

MOREWrongly Convicted Man Jeffrey Deskovic Awarded Graduate Degree

Now fully reintegrated to the outside world, Deskovic has no financial worries. He collected more than $20 million for the miscarriage of justice he suffered. He could have retired to a Florida beach. Instead, he toughed out law school.

"Because I can't forget about the people I metaphorically left behind, other people who are wrongfully imprisoned," Deskovic said. "I feel like I've been given some opportunities not everyone in my position has had so I feel tremendous moral responsibility to do as much as I can. That's the opposite direction of going to the beach in Florida for a life of never-ending vacation."

Armed now with a law degree, Deskovic is ready to pursue justice.

Even before finishing law school, he created a foundation that has already helped exonerate two people wrongly convicted of felony crimes.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.