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Martin Tankleff, freed from prison after 17 years, mulls run for Congress

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Dave Evans has the story. (WABC)

A Long Island man who spent nearly two decades behinds bars before a court ruled he was innocent says he's exploring possibly running for Congress.

If he runs, Martin Tankleff would become a politician like no other. He spent almost 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

"In the last 24 hours, I've gotten hundreds of messages from people saying 'Marty, you've gotta run, you're a people person, you represent us,'" he said.

Tankleff was charged with murdering his parents back in 1988 when he just 17 years old.

He was tricked into making a confession and sentenced to 50 years in prison. But in 2007, the courts found key evidence at his trial was overlooked, and Tankleff was finally freed.

"I'm still angry, but you know, a long time ago somebody said what is the anger going to do to you?" he said. "You can manifest the anger and let it destroy you, or you can manifest the anger into some positive energy and make change in life."

Now, with his new wife's support, a law degree and a $3 million court settlement with the state, Tankleff says he's leaning toward running for office, because there, he says he can really change things.

"What better way to change our system than get into politics, where I could really try to change the law instead of just being an advocate for changing the law," he said.

Tankleff would run as an independent or a Democrat, and he would face longtime incumbent Peter King, who said Tankleff is certainly entitled to run. King, though, is awfully popular, but Tankleff says he's not worried.

"I obtained my freedom," he said. "I'm out. I'm looking forward to a challenge in life."

Tankleff first announced his interest in running via Twitter.

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