Released Day Care Worker Enjoys First Day of Freedom

A day care provider imprisoned for nearly 10 years after being convicted of shaking a baby to death says she's not bitter, even after newly-found evidence may prove her innocence.

Jennifer Del Prete, 43, of Hickory Hills was released on bond Wednesday and will remain free during the appeals process.

"My daughter and I have been together as much as possible in the past 24 hours and it's amazing ... surreal," Del Prete said.

The new evidence, uncovered by Northwestern undergraduates and the Medill Justice Project, suggests the 14-month-old baby had a pre-existing medical condition -- information that was never brought up at her trial. She served nearly half of her 20-year sentence.

"That was a hard time for me to watch my children lose me, lose each other and lose our home and lose our community," Del Prete said.

Del Prete went to the federal courthouse Thursday to complete some paperwork, and then planned to go visit her son. Her children were 7 and 14 when she went to prison.

"I'm just grateful that I'm here, and I'm with them now, and I have a chance to enjoy some time with them now, and I hope that it doesn't end ever," Del Prete said.

Del Prete credits the Medill Justice Project for their part in helping her taste freedom again.

"I call them my army, and my attorneys. I owe everything to them," Del Prete said. "I'm not bitter about anything. I think this has humbled me. I was already a strong woman, I believe I'm 10 times stronger now."

Del Prete says one of the most difficult things she's dealing with in less than 24 hours of freedom is the technology, such as learning to use swiping functions on smart phones. But her kids are helping her get up to speed.

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