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Family of Cleveland man who says he was wrongfully convicted celebrate his 1st Thanksgiving home in 15 years

Kenny Phillips was convicted of murder in 2006, which was overturned in 2021.
Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 11:01 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - For the last 15 years, one seat at the Phillips family Thanksgiving dinner table has been empty.

The seat was for Elaine Witherspoon’s son Kenny Phillips, who had been imprisoned for a 2006 shooting.

“When my son got arrested they gave him 92 years for a crime he did not commit,” Witherspoon said.

Witherspoon never gave up hope as she and her son professed his innocence. In May, the State Appeals Court agreed and Kenny Phillips could walk out of prison on bond. This Thanksgiving was his first home in more than a decade.

“I’m so excited, overjoyed, everything,” Witherspoon said, “I cannot wait for him to walk through this door to see how much love he will have.”

It’s what made this Thanksgiving that much more special, as Phillips was able to take his seat at the table for the first time in more than a decade.

“I’m so grateful for this right now,” Phillips said, “I’m thankful too.”

Phillips said the transition from prison to normal life has been difficult.

That’s why he appreciates the food more than ever.

“It’s keeping myself strong. My family, they keep me strong,” Phillips said. '

Phillips is hoping his seat is never empty again.

He will be back in court in January after prosecutors appealed the decision.

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