3 Released from Prison After Wrongful Convictions in '95 Murders

Devon Ayers, Michael Cosme and Carlos Perez spent 18 years in prison for a pair of 1995 murders they say they never committed

By Ida Siegal
|  Thursday, Jan 24, 2013  |  Updated 9:10 AM EDT
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Three men are freed from prison after spending more than 18 years behind bars for a crime they did not commit. Ida Siegal has more on the emotional reunion with family members.

NBC 4 New York

Three men are freed from prison after spending more than 18 years behind bars for a crime they did not commit. Ida Siegal has more on the emotional reunion with family members.

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New Evidence May Exonerate 5 Men

Federal prosecutors say the evidence is overwhelming that the wrong people are behind bars for the 1995 murder of a cab driver. Andrew Siff has more with one of the convicted men from behind the walls of Sing Sing Prison in an NBC 4 New York exclusive.
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Three men walked out of jail into the arms of family members Wednesday night, after 18 years in prison on wrongful murder convictions. 

In an emotional reunion with his family on a Bronx street, Michael Cosme, 37, screamed, "I'm free, I'm free. Finally, after 18 years, I'm free."

Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez were convicted in the murders of a livery cab driver and a FedEx executive in 1995. But nearly two decades later, prosecutors learned two gang members confessed to murdering the cab driver, and the rest of the case unraveled, documented in a joint WNBC/Dateline investigation.

"I've been innocent, and I've been fighting all these years, and the hard work finally paid off," said Cosme.

Two other people also wrongly convicted of the same murder were released from prison in October 2012.

"It's not easy for a man to be in jail for all these years for a crime he didn't do," said Perez. "It hurts." 

"Proving your innocence is hard, especially from behind bars. All you can do is rely on your faith in the system and people like Mr. Austern," he said, referring to his lawyer by his side, Bruce Austern.

Ayers said, "I just want to get home to my family."

Perez said he was looking forward to spending the night with his children and "make up for all the lost years." After that, he wants to pursue a scholarship and finish his college education and receive a degree to become a paralegal. Perez became a law clerk while he was in prison.

Cosme, who does not have children, said he wants to study culinary arts and "work in a nice upscale restaurant."

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