A man who spent 23 years in prison for a heinous crime he didn’t commit was welcomed back to his old job as a groundskeeper with the Chicago White Sox on Monday.
Nevest Coleman’s conviction in a 1994 rape and murder was overturned in November after DNA evidence linked the crime to a serial rapist, the Chicago Tribune reported. Coleman was working for the White Sox when he was convicted.
“His first wish, before he wished for a hamburger, was to work for the White Sox,” said Coleman’s cousin, Richard Coleman. “That’s exactly what I told them.”
Coleman initially confessed to killing the 20-year-old woman, who was discovered in the basement of a home on Chicago’s South Side where Coleman lived, but he later recanted.
Prosecutors initially pushed for Coleman to get the death penalty, according to the Tribune. However, several character witnesses, including three White Sox employees, spoke on Coleman’s behalf.
Glad to see him out. Glad to see him back,” said Jerry Powe, who testified on Coleman’s behalf as a character witness at his trial and who is now his supervisor. “I’m so happy for him, me and the White Sox.”
After his release, Coleman’s friends and family reached out to the White Sox organization. Coleman had expressed his desire to return to work once he was released.
The team gave him a job interview and soon welcomed him back to his old job as groundskeeper at Guaranteed Rate Field — formerly known as Comiskey Park.
Coleman, 49, reflected on returning to his old job, reuniting with his family and his championship hopes for the White Sox.
“I was proud to come back here,” Coleman told CBS News in an interview. “I love the atmosphere.”
Coleman’s day began with power-washing the entrance to Guaranteed Rate Field where the team’s 2005 World Series commemoration plaza and sculpture are located, CBS Chicago reports.
His situation now is vastly different than it was over the last 23 years, when he was sitting in jail as an innocent man. He kept out of trouble, spent most of his time reading books, such as those in the popular series “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter,” and tried to avoid the “routine” of television.
When asked what kept him going, he replied, “My family.”
“I know I didn’t do it,” he said. “My family was always behind me. My goal was to see everybody.”
In November, Coleman was released from prison after DNA evidence led prosecutors to vacate his conviction in a 1994 rape and murder. A county judge granted him a certificate of innocence this month.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk