Prison Inmate Released After 20 Years
"I didn't belong here," says Michael Alan Parker, moments after being released from Craggy Correctional Center.
The former Henderson County resident's release comes after 20 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of sex crimes against three children. Prosecutors linked those molestations to a satanic ritual.
He faced eight life sentences, but Parker maintained his innocence.
"If I didn't think this day was going to happen, I probably wouldn't be here right now," he says. "It's about faith you know."
He was flanked by attorney Sean Devereux and supporters including his brother and nephew.
On Monday, a judge ordered him released after dismissing the charges.
"Anything could have happened. But when he said charges dismissed. It was a sinking feeling in my heart. It's indescribable," he tells us, holding back tears. "You have doors slammed along the way. Everyone don't believe you. But the truth is a strong tool."
Devereux and Duke law professor Teresa Newman raised a long list of questions about the case against Parker, including child testimony they say was coerced by adults.
"There was a prosecutor who was in the middle of a re-election campaign who played pretty fast and loose with the evidence. There was a judge who cared more about public opinion," Devereux says.
District Attorney Greg Newman says he disagrees with the release, but respects the judge's opinion.
After more than a third of his life spent behind bars, every step is away from prison is sweet. Parker is now on the outside, looking up.
"Outside a fence without handcuffs and chains, wow!"
By: John Le
Follow John: @AbsoluteLe