Man wrongly convicted of murder tells story
Mon, 18 May 2009 04:32:56 GMT —
It's been three months since Joshua Kezer, 34, was let out of prison.
After spending 15 years, nearly half his life, behind bars for a murder he didn't commit, a judge overturned his conviction.
"I'm loving it," Kezer told KRCG News in a sit-down interview. "It's like a long strange trip and I'm just enjoying the ride."
But that ride, along with his newfound freedom, almost never happened.
In 1992, Kezer was convicted of killing 19-year-old Angela Mischelle Lawless. With little evidence against him, he was sentenced to 60 years behind bars. He was 18 at the time. We asked what that was like but it's still hard for him to put it into words.
"I can't, I don't know," Kezer said after a pause. "I was just numb."
With nowhere to turn but God, he resigned himself to a hopeless situation. That is until he met Jane Williams, a social worker and unlikely advocate, who met him through prison ministry.
"I walked into a church service at the old walls in Jeff City," Williams said. And "this kid, with a long ponytail, was kneeling on the floor praying. And I said to the leader of the church service, "Who's that?' She said, 'That's Josh, he's innocent.'"
Despite having no experience in legal matters, Williams went to bat for Kezer and worked feverishly to get him out.
"I think my naivety helped because I had no idea that this was almost never done," Williams said. "And so it really never crossed my mind that we weren't going to get him out."
This past February a judge threw out his conviction, while lashing out at former Congressman Kenny Hulshof - who prosecuted the case - for withholding key pieces of evidence. On Feb. 18, around 3 p.m., Kezer walked out of prison a free man.
"I just wanted to hug my mom," he said. "I wanted her to just have the greatest moment of her life."
The headlines told the story: He was finally vindicated.
For now, Kezer's got a construction job and is about to move into his own place. On Sunday, members of the Christian Fellowship church in Columbia gathered for an event to hear Kezer speak, donating gifts and money to help him rebuild his life.
Since getting out of "the joint," as he calls it, Kezer has had to overcome a number of obstacles. The biggest one: technology.
"There was a lot of technology, or so I thought, before I got arrested," Kezer said. "But oh my goodness. It's like the people must have just gotten smarter....When I got locked up technology must have gone through the roof. Cell phones, ATM machines, cars, just everything is computers nowadays."
Williams, who has become a close friend, said he's picking up on all the technology quickly. He's using the computer and text messaging frequently.
Kezer says he wants to go back to the Jefferson City Correctional Center and is convinced others locked up are also innocent.
We asked him about the upcoming execution of Dennis Skillicorn. While he doesn't know much about the case he says he's against the death penalty.
No longer bound by chains, only memories, he said he's learning to forgive and is moving on with his life.
He credits God for getting him through, and getting him out, of prison.
If you'd like to send a donation to Mr. Kezer, or just words of encouragement, you can mail him at the address below:
Joshua KezerPMB 1712101 West Broadway, Suite 103Columbia, MO 65203