The first Massachusetts man to stand was Ray Champagne, his head slightly bowed, right hand raised skyward. The ballroom crowd roared to celebrate his release after 41 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
Others freed from Bay State prisons followed: Frances Choy (17 years), Robert Foxworth (29 years), Raymond Gaines (46 years), and four more. The newly exonerated or freed from across the country climbed to their feet one by one to be recognized for the years they spent wrongfully behind bars.
111 people; 2,459 years.
Last came James Watson, who, at 6-foot-6, shot up like a man with a new life. The 63-year-old, whom prosecutors in Suffolk County once sought to execute, pumped his fists and basked in the applause.
“It feels like a trillion bucks,”