Investigative Reporter Jennifer McKim says it was an unusually upbeat atmosphere in a Brockton Superior Courtroom yesterday, moments before Darrell Jones walked out a free man, after serving more than 30 years in prison for a murder he says he didn’t commit.
“We remarked at how you don’t usually go into a courtroom where everyone seems happy and excited and there was a real sense it was going to happen, and he was going to walk out,” said McKim.
McKim, a reporter with the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, a partner of WGBH News, has been reporting on Jones' case for many years. She says this was Jones' third motion seeking a new trial for his 1986 conviction for the murder of Guillermo Rodriguez.
A judge vacated Jones' conviction and ordered his release on $5,000 bail, based on evidence of racial bias from the jury and police misconduct.
McKim says Jones walked out of the courtroom “and immediately started talking about how he wants to be a person to talk about change, race, innocence and prison rights. He came out like a powerhouse.”
The Plymouth County District Attorney still must decide whether they're going to appeal the decision to vacate Jones' case or re-prosecute. Recently, the Commonwealth decided not to pursue re-prosecution in two other murder cases — those of Victor Rosario and Fred Clay, whose convictions were also vacated after they had served decades in jail.
To listen to the interview, click on the audio player above.