A Chicago mother who spent nearly eight years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of her young son's strangling death is finally — and completely — a free woman.
On Monday, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said in a written statement her office would not retry 31-year-old Nicole Harris, saying it could not meet its burden of proof in the case, the Tribune reports.
"We do not believe that it would be in the interest of justice to proceed on this matter."
Since being released from prison in February, Harris still wasn't technically free, telling CBS Chicago she was “in limbo, not knowing what is going to happen. I was scared.”
Harris' four-year-old son Jaquari Dancy was found in his room with a fitted bedsheet cord around his neck in 2005 and Harris was charged after she says she gave a forced confession following a 27-hour interrogation by police which was not videotaped.
"A lot of people may not understand it," Harris told Fox Chicago of her false confession. "I did not understand false confessions either, at one point. It was just a thing of, how do you say that you did something that you did not do? I never understood that until it happened to me."
After her arrest Harris reached out to the Northwestern University Center on Wrongful Convictions which then turned to a Chicago law firm for help. Attorneys with mega firm Jenner & Block say a key to Harris' victory was that the judge barred crucial witness testimony from her older son Diante who they allege saw the younger brother strangle himself.
"False confessions happen and Chicago has been labeled the false confession capital," says Steve Drizin, legal director at the Center on Wrongful Convictions. In December, Alvarez gave a disastrous "60 Minutes" interview in which she was questioned as to how Chicago has managed to rack up more false convictions than any other city in America.
Now a free woman, Harris told Fox she wants to get back and work on her Master's degree for community counseling and spend time with her son Diante, now a teenager.