He spent 27 years behind bars for a heinous crime he didn’t commit. But this Christmas, he’ll be home.
In 1992, Clarence Shipley was convicted of first-degree murder. When the Baltimore native learned police were searching for him, Shipley turned himself in, but maintained he was innocent of the crime with which they charged him, according to WBAL-TV.
Shipley was accused of murdering Kevin Smith in October 1991. But he argued his innocence throughout the trial the following year, claiming he was in a different place at the time of the crime and police apprehended the wrong man.
Twenty-seven years later, they finally believe him.
The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project argues police never investigated Shipley’s alibi. Furthermore, witness testimony claimed the killer was right-handed; Shipley is left-handed.
After Shipley’s family hired a former detective to look into his case — and the conviction went before the Baltimore Innocence Project Clinic for consideration — things finally began to change, ultimately leading to the innocent man’s freedom.
“When a man, who is an innocent man, spent 27 years of the prime of his life behind bars, so on behalf of the criminal justice system, as a representative of the criminal justice system, I think it’s incumbent on us to acknowledge that error and that pain that we’ve inflicted upon this man and his family, and that’s the reason why I apologized to Mr. Clarence Shipley today,” said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
What kept Shipley going in prison?
In an interview with WBAL-TV, Shipley said he “stayed positive, kept working, surrounded myself with positive people who were behind bars with me. And I just kept believing in God.”
“It’s a blessing. It’s going to be good,” he said of his first Christmas in the free world in nearly three decades. “I’m excited. Happy.”
Shipley jumped at the opportunity this week to say he forgives the three witnesses who lied against him during the 1992 trial, admitting, though, that his conviction led him to lose “a lot” — including a child he “never got to know.”
Ola, Shipley’s mother, said, “I rejoice and I thank God that the day came that they released him, and this will be a good Christmas for all of us. I lost a lot of years with him, a lot of years. We were going in the jail to see him, but it’s still like you can’t hug him like your loved ones at home.”
She went on to say she “thank[s] God for” the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project and their work to exonerate her son.
As for his future, Shipley said he plans to live out the rest of his life doing “God’s work, whatever God allows me to do.”