"I'm going to get with my family and get myself a job," said Liston G. Noble, 62, who was convicted in 1976 of acting as a lookout in a robbery that turned deadly. "I'm going to live what's left of my life."
Inside a public defender's office, Noble embraced his son tearfully in the lobby before heading upstairs to change into jeans and a plaid shirt purchased by his sister. For the first time in his life, he used a cellphone, cradling it awkwardly against his ear.
"I don't even know how one works," he said.
As he stepped outside, he stood on the street and marveled at the tall buildings that now crowd St. Paul Place.
Noble was found guilty of murder after prosecutors said he kept watch during a home invasion that ended with Frank David Deickman Jr. shot to death while wrapping Christmas presents.
Sitting in court just feet away from Noble, Deickman's son began to cry as he attempted to address a judge. Brian Deickman was 9 years old when he saw his father killed. He was unable to continue speaking.
"No person, especially a child should have to witness what I saw,NFL Jerseys from china," said Assistant's State's Attorney Theresa M. Shaffer, reading from a statement Deickman had prepared. "I lost my best friend and my dad that night.
"I feel the sentence handed down was fair and just," Shaffer continued reading. "Dad doesn't get a do-over and neither should Mr. Noble."
Despite the raw emotion from victims in the courtroom, lawyers representing the men have tried to show how much they have changed since their crimes. The state's attorney's office has said it is only considering the release of prisoners who no longer pose a risk to public safety.
Noble has violated prison rules against drugs, alcohol and tobacco a number of times,discount nike nfl jerseys, according to his release agreement, but prosecutors said the incidents did not endanger other inmates or prison staff. He spent a short time on work-release before the option was revoked for people on life sentences.
A number of the men who have been released to date were convicted of murder despite not pulling a trigger or landing a killing blow. Glenn J. Ford, the shooter in Noble's case,The 'threat' of free services for pregnant women_0,cheap NBA Jerseys, was convicted of murder and died in prison in 2002, according to court records. Another man pleaded guilty and received a lesser sentence.
Noble said he felt he had been treated unfairly but understood Deickman's position.
"I kind of somewhat felt his pain as he tried to express his loss," Noble said. "You don't get over things like that."
Whatever the facts of the cases, a decision by the state's highest court found that before 1980 jurors were instructed that they could return guilty verdicts while ignoring the constitutionally protected concepts of reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence.
The faulty instructions were changed in 1980, but the ruling last year opened the way for the inmates to ask for new trials.
Among the others released Thursday was Eric Lynch, who shot a man in the head at close range with a rifle in 1971 after he lost $4 in a game of craps, and David Cockey, who shot his uncle to death in their kitchen.
Both men declined to comment.