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27 Dec 2017

News In Picture: Woman finally free from prison after serving 20 years for crime she didn’t commit

A woman jailed as a teenager for a crime she did not commit has finally been released from prison after serving 22 years. Tyra Patterson was convicted in 1994 for being an accomplice to murder because she witnessed her friend kill another girl.
Patterson was jailed as a teenager and spent 22 years in prison (Picture: Fox45)
Now 42-years-old, Patterson was reunited with her family on Christmas Day after celebrities joined a long-running campaign to free her. She has always maintained her innocence after being convicted in the murder and robbery of 15-year-old Michelle Lai in Cleveland, Ohio. Patterson claims police forced her into confessing to a robbery she never committed, which opened her up to an aggravated murder conviction.

She did not fire the shot that killed Lai, but under Ohio law accomplices can be handed the same punishment as killers. After spending more than two decades behind bars, Patterson was finally allowed to walk free on Monday when she hugged family members and shouted: ‘Let’s eat and open gifts!’
Tyra Patterson, now 42, was freed on Christmas Day (Picture: FOX45)
She was initially denied parole in 2011 but was granted release in October following a wave of support, including from documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, American actress Alfre Woodard and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. The murder victim’s own sister, Holly Lai, was also among those to advocate for Patterson’s release, saying she wasn’t involved in the shooting.

She had been out with her 15-year-old sister Michelle and a group of teenage girls who had been burgling garages on the night of September 20, 1994. They were sitting in a car in an alleyway when they were confronted by a another group of teens – including Patterson. The two groups got into a heated argument that ended with Michelle being shot in the head. Another woman, LaShawna Keeney, is accused of firing the fatal shot.
She celebrated with family after her Christmas Day release (Picture: Fox45)

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