Inmate studies law in prison, frees himself of crime he didn't c - FOX 32 News Chicago

Inmate studies law in prison, frees himself of crime he didn't commit

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Rondell Sanders is a free man after spending twenty years in prison for a murder he always maintained he did not commit. Wednesday morning he was released from prison after being acquitted in his third trial since 1994.

He said he survived because of his Christian faith, which he had from childhood but rediscovered in prison.

“I'll never forget falling on my knees one night in my cell, and I told God, I said this is not where I want to be but if this is what you have for me in life and if you're never going to let me out then give me the grace, the grace to endure it,” Sanders said.

Sanders said his freedom felt amazing. His attorney credited Sanders’ own legal efforts while in prison for making that freedom happen.

“He gathered all of the evidence and then used it to overturn his conviction. There was no fluke, this is the result of years of dedicated hard work and some expert lawyering that he did by simply reading a few books,” said Sander’s attorney with the Exonoration Project, Russell Ainsworth.

Sanders said after losing his initial trial and several appeals with other lawyers, he knew he needed to take matters into his own hands. Sanders said he spent 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week while incarcerated studying law.

“So, I took about a thousand dollars, asked my sister Virginia to get about one thousand dollars worth of legal books and I taught myself the law, as much as I can and I took on the justice system,” Sanders said

His daughters are looking forward to restarting their lives with their father

“It's new, it's unreal, it's surprising, I'm happy that he's home that I can build a relationship with my father, so I can know what it feels like to have my mother and father in my life," said 20-year-old Jaquita Jones, who was just months old when her father went to prison.

“It was hard, he missed my marriage, he missed all four of my children's births,” said another daughter Lynette Booth, who was just 13 when her father was put in jail.

Now that he's free, Sanders wants to work in a law firm helping others who are wrongfully convicted.

“I want to see that smile on their face that was on my face when I came out, you know what I'm saying? Nobody is listening to them and somebody needs to listen, nobody was listening to me so I know how they feel,” Sanders said.

Sanders is also relishing what his freedom means.

“I haven't been able to hold people and touch people and now I'm holding my family, so I've got to re-adjust myself back to society and I know it's not going to be easy,” Sanders said.

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