Vernon testified that he hadn’t seen Franks die. He said the police fed him information ”“ the battery acid, the caliber of the gun ”“ and coerced him into testifying. He said they got mad whenever he got cold feet. They threatened to send his parents to jail. They controlled him with fear. And once told, Vernon’s story became a monster of its own volition.
“They were lies,” he testified.
“It was all lies?” the prosecutor asked.
“They were lies,” he said.
After Vernon’s recantation, Jackson took the stand. “Regardless of what happens here today,” he said, “somebody heard the truth for once. I spent 39 years of my life paying for something I didn’t do.”
In light of Vernon’s recantation, the state withdrew their case. The hearing ended on a Tuesday. That Friday, 39 years, 5 months, and 27 days after his arrest, Ricky Jackson walked out of the courtroom unshackled. He joined Ronnie and Wiley for a tearful, celebratory meal at Red Lobster.