FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (WABC) --A man was freed from prison Tuesday after witnesses in his Queens murder case recanted their stories and his conviction was overturned.
36-year-old Tullie Hyman is a free man. "I'm happy, so very happy," he said.
Tullie spent almost half his life, 16 years and 8 months to be exact, in maximum-security prisons in New York for a murder he did not commit.
"All you can do is have faith in God and hope a judge will take his time and make a decision in your favor," said Hyman.
In March 2000, a tenant activist was shot by a stray bullet and killed in Far Rockaway.
Tullie Hyman was convicted of the murder. Except he has always maintained he was a victim too. Tullie even voluntarily went to the precinct.
"I tried to assist in the investigation. I walked in and never walked out," he said.
While behind bars, Tullie Hyman missed his mother's funeral and so much of his own life. But he refused to drown himself in anger and self pity.
On Tuesday morning, Tullie walked into the arms of friends and family who literally swept him off his feet.
But as sweet as this victory is, Tullie's legal battles are not over yet. The Queens District Attorney is now appealing the federal judge's decision to let Tullie go.
"Not only is he actually innocent, the trial was flawed," said Glenn Garber of the Exoneration Initiative. "The main witness recanted multiple times."
But for now, Tullie is off to see his aging father and build a new life with his wife upstate.
"I'm a firm believer that perseverance breaks down resistance," he said.
Hyman was convicted of killing tenant activist Maria Medina in 2002 and sentenced to 21 years to life in prison. Medina had been killed by a stray bullet during a gunfight.