When Ricky Jackson was released after being wrongly held in prison for 39 years, he was finally free. But was he truly free?
He was convicted in 1975 of a murder at an east side grocery store. It was a conviction based largely on the testimony of Eddie Vernon, who was just a boy at the time. Vernon recalls his testimony now as being coached by police.
"All of these years, I've been holding this same guilt inside, wanting to release it, wanting to come forward and do the right thing," said Vernon.
He finally did reveal details to his pastor Anthony Singleton.
"He just burst out crying. It's like something came out of him," described Singleton.
Forgiveness is often preached in churches, but rarely is it demonstrated in such an emotional, genuine way as it was when Jackson and Vernon met for the first time at the Emmanuel Christian Church. The two men embraced upon meeting. Then Vernon whispered something remarkable.
"It took a lot of courage to do what you did, man. Thank you, man. Sorry. It's all right, brother. We're both victims, man. It's all right. I do forgive you, man. I wanted to be here personally to tell you," said Vernon.
The gesture stunned Vernon, who again, burst into tears.
"How can this man hug and embrace me after all these years?" asked Vernon.
"I know I had to do this because I desperately want to move forward with my life, and the only way I can do that is by forgiving him," explained Jackson.
Now both men are truly free.