NEW YORK (WPIX) — For 38 years David Bryant professed his innocence, but it wasn’t until a DNA sample finally freed him that he was able to convince the legal system of it.
As an 18-year-old in 1975, Bryant was convicted for the rape and murder of 8-year-old Karen Smith in the Bronx.
“You had every belief you’re going to be alright” at a trial, a tearful Bryant said.
But for Bryant everything wasn’t alright. As a teen, he was sentenced to 25 years to life behind bars.
“You walk around for the rest of your life, you never live that down.”
For nearly four decades Bryant maintained his innocence, but had little hope.
But after learning about DNA testing in 1999, Bryant thought he might have a second chance.
He shared his story with a group called Centurion ministries, which specializes in helping people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. They decided to help him with his case.
After testing Bryant’s DNA, it turned out that he did not share the same blood type with the person responsible for the girl’s rape and murder.
And Thursday, April 11, after 38 years behind bars, a judge allowed Bryant to go free.
The now 56-year-old says he feels blessed to have his life back, but he has to start learning everything over again.
“The baby came out of the womb, got slapped on its butt and tried to learn how to walk, day by day,” Bryant said. “That’s all I can do.”