PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) - A man who said he was wrongly convicted of murder and spent over 12 years behind bars is now out of jail.
Andre Gonzalez said he’s staying with family in Pembroke Pines while he gets back on his feet and told 7News he feels he has lost 13 years of his life and is ready to get those years back.
“I was totally innocent. I did not murder that guy, I did not shoot that guy,” Gonzalez said.
For more than a decade, Gonzalez, who also went by the alias Tony Brown, sat behind bars.
He was accused of a crime that the courts now agree he may not have committed.
“It was really hard, stressful, a lot of pain,” Gonzalez said. “Being away for so many years from your family, your children, your loved ones, it’s just hurting feeling. You know, a lot of people turn their back on you.”
The life-altering decision to free Gonzalez came after a prison inmate told investigators that they had the wrong guy.
It all started with a 2005 armed robbery and shooting that left Nigel Whatley dead outside a North Miami-Dade nightclub.
A circuit judge reviewed the case in September and determined there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove that Gonzalez pulled the trigger.
“I’m not the first, and I’m surely not going to be the last that this happens to,” Gonzalez said.
But even with the judge’s decision, the state maintains its position.
A memo released by the state attorney’s office on Tuesday reads, “The State of Florida, in no way, believe that this defendant is innocent of the crime. However, in light of the changes in the evidence, we are unable to again prove Tony Brown’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt as required by law.”
“When you have evidence that can’t prove that someone is guilty, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out,” Gonzalez said,. “and they knew that.”
Gonzalez told 7News that he plans to spend some time getting to know his four children and eventually hopes to move north to start his new life.
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