Michael Saunders had mixed emotions walking out of the Cook County Jail on Friday afternoon.
"Man, it's the most beautiful day of my life," he said. "Today is a new beginning. I'm just happy to be free."
But beneath that happiness is a lot of anger. He and another man, Harold Richardson, were both released after a Cook County Judge on Wednesday threw out their convictions.
"I'm very, very angry. It's a lot of resentment. I would be lying if I told you I wasn't angry that I spent 17 years incarcerated for a crime I didn't commit," said Saunders.
Richardson and Saunders were just teenagers when they, along with two others, were convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of Nina Glover. DNA evidence later pointed to another man, a now-dead convicted murder named Johnny Douglas.
Seventeen years is a big chunk of one's lifetime to lose. It's a fact not lost on the two men.
"I lost the Christmas spirit all that. I'm hoping to get it back now," said Richardson.
The two others convicted with Richardson and Saunders have already had their day in court. Terrill Swift is out on parole and Vincent Thames recently completed his sentence and was released.
Officially, the pair is out on bond. It's up to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office to determine if there will be another trial.