When Richard Philips was 27 years old, he was found guilty of dragging a man named Gregory Harris out of his car and shooting him to death. Harris’ brother-in-law corroborated the story and told investigators he met with Philips in a local bar to discuss the murder.
Yet despite the statement from the victim’s relative, Philips maintained his innocence. It wasn’t enough, however, and Philips went on to spend 46 years in prison.
Then in 2010, Richard Polombo came forward and admitted to the killing. It would be another four years before the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan’s law school heard Polombo’s confession, and another three in legal proceedings before Philips was granted a new trial in 2017.
In March of 2018, Philips became a free man. CNN reports that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has awarded Philips $1.5 million, $50,000 for each year he was imprisoned. The money will not be taxed and Philips won’t lose any of it in lawyer fees.
In 1990, Philips began painting to “to stave off loneliness” and began selling his artwork in prison to fellow inmates. The money he made went into purchasing more supplies. Philips’ watercolor paintings echoed themes of hope and survival.
Now, at 73 years old, Philips rents a small apartment and hopes to buy a home with his money. For now, he’s enjoying life’s simple pleasures and along with his new home, he says he also wants a German Shepherd puppy.
“He is pretty well-adjusted. He says that he is not bitter,” Gabi Silver, Philips’ attorney said.