KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Lee's Summit man who served time on death row for a murder he didn't commit has finally had his murder charge dismissed by Randolph County prosecutors. The Missouri Supreme Court reversed the murder conviction of 53-year-old Reggie Griffin in August of 2011.
But it took until December of 2012 for Griffin to be released on bond and it was October 25th of 2013 before prosecutors admitted they didn't have the evidence to seek a new trial.
In an exclusive interview with FOX 4's Rob Low, Griffin said he expected to die in prison for a murder he didn't commit.
"It speaks for itself, you on death row, you see them come and get people all the time so if they keep coming and get them (death row inmates) eventually it's going to be your turn," Griffin said.
Griffin went to death row for the 1983 murder of a fellow inmate named James Bausley at a state prison in Moberly, Mo. Griffin was originally incarcerated for a 1981 assault near St. Louis and sentenced to 20-years. But in 1988 he was placed on death row for Bausley's death.
He stayed there until 1996 when a constitutional error took him off death row and placed him back in the general prison population. The real killer, an inmate named Doyle Franks, confessed in 1989 and admitted Griffin had nothing to do with the prison yard stabbing.
But Griffin's attorney, Cyndy Short, said prosecutors didn't want to reopen the case and Griffin languished in prison until appeals finally got him released in 2012. Short says wrongful convictions happen.
"First and foremost when investigations focus too quickly on a particular individual and fail to look beyond that," Short said.
Short said Griffin was set up by a jailhouse snitch who wanted a prison transfer and was willing to lie at the request of investigators, she told FOX4, "When he (jailhouse informant) went to the institution and told them who the killer was the institution rejected that and wanted him to be a witness against someone else."
That someone she said, for reasons unknown, was Reggie Griffin. In 2010, while still in prison, Griffin married his wife Portland Griffin. The couple lives in Lee's Summit and Griffin now works part-time as a janitor for the McCallister law firm that helped free him.
"I am starting all over but I'm happy to be home. I got a wife, I got a life, I got a job, I got a car. I'm trying to feel my way back into society," said Griffin.
If Griffin had never been charged with murder, his attorney believes he would've been out of prison in less than 10 years. Instead he served 31 years, 24 of them after the real killer had already come forward to say Griffin had nothing to do with the stabbing.