For the first time in decades, Nevest Coleman, wearing handcuffs and shackles Friday, got to see his family in Chicago.
"Oh my god, it was emotional," Jennice Soleman, Nevest's sister, said. "I cried when I first saw him. Blew him kisses. He just nodded his head."
Convicted of rape and murder 20 years ago, Coleman was requested by Judge Dennis Porter to make the trip from the Menard Correctional Center for a hearing to determine if new DNA evidence is enough to prove his innocence and set him free.
Coleman and alleged accomplice Daryl Fulton were sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of Antwinica Bridgeman in the basement of her home on the 900 block of West Garfield Boulevard on the city's South Side.
"I have never had a case with as much probative and startling DNA evidence pointing to the true perpetrator," said attorney Russell Ainsworth. "And excluding and exonerating every other person who is supposed to have committed this crime--you just don’t see that."
There was no physical evidence against either but there was an allegedly coerced confession that lead to Coleman's conviction.
"Mr. Coleman is going to get justice, the question is when," Ainsworth said. "And we are hopeful that next week, the judge will rule that he should be released pending the investigation."
In the meantime, Coleman will remain in custody and his family will continue their fight to see him come home for good.
"He came out and the energy in the room changed right away," Richard Coleman, Nevest's first cousin, said. "We want to get to the finish line."