Ray Towler was released from prison this week after serving 30 years for a rape he didn't commit. DNA evidence showed that Towler was innocent.
By all accounts, Towler has remained surprisingly upbeat about his situation. No bottled-up resentment for having a sizable portion of his life stolen from him, no harsh words for the state of Ohio for bungling the investigation and trial, no urge to lash out for a supreme injustice. The approximately $1.4 million plus lost wages he's going to collect from the state might be part of the reason, but still... 30 years.
According to the Columbus Dispatch:
Towler beamed throughout the hearing, waved to family members in the back of the courtroom, and again showed no signs of anger or animosity for losing so many years behind bars.
"I just waited for the sun to come up today and it did. And for the first time in a long time, I get to walk in the sun outside of prison," Towler after his release.
"This is the greatest day of my life, and it's pure joy; I have no hate for anyone," said the 52-year-old Cleveland native in a phone interview yesterday. "I suppose hoping to see LeBron play in person is too much to ask, but at least I can watch the games from outside the barbed wire. I get to start a new life, and the Cavs are going to win the championship. It doesn't get much better than that."
Towler certainly has his priorities in line.
And what did the 52-year-old get upon his release, besides the sweet smell of fresh, free air?
He picked a casual pizza restaurant for his first meal as a free man because pizza was something his family could share. The store manager's eyes lit up when he saw the large group walk in about 10:30 a.m. Towler's family helped push together five tables and ordered six extra-large pies with the works. The Ohio Innocence Project picked up the tab.
He had told The Dispatch on Tuesday that it was probably too much to ask to see LeBron James in person at a Cavaliers' playoff game.
But it wasn't. Tad Carper, Cavs vice president of communication, said yesterday that he would invite Towler and three guests to sit courtside for next week's playoff game in Cleveland against the Boston Celtics.
"Now, that is what I call a homecoming present," he said.