Sunday 22 April 2018

Man returns to work as baseball groundsman after 23 years in prison

Nevest Coleman was freed after a DNA test showed he was not responsible for a murder and rape and is back on duty for the Chicago White Sox.

Chicago White Sox groundskeeper Nevest Coleman, centre, laughs with friend and fellow grounds crew members (Nancy Stone/AP)
Chicago White Sox groundskeeper Nevest Coleman, centre, laughs with friend and fellow grounds crew members (Nancy Stone/AP)

By Andrew Seligman

A prisoner released after serving 23 years for a crime he did not commit has more reason than most to look forward to the new baseball season in the US.

Nevest Coleman was back in his old job as a groundsman for the Chicago White Sox team, working at Thursday’s home opener against the Detroit Tigers.

“When you sit back when you’re locked up, you don’t think about (a day like this),” Mr Coleman said.

“You just think about what’s going on trying to move forward in life, trying to figure out what I’m gonna do when I get out, how I’m gonna support myself.

“The White Sox gave me the opportunity.”

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Wrongful Conviction White Sox Groundskeeper

Mr Coleman is getting another chance after he and another Illinois man named Darryl Fulton were exonerated in a 1994 rape and murder.

They were convicted in the killing of a 20-year-old woman after her body was found in the basement of a home on Chicago’s South Side where Mr Coleman lived.

Both Mr Coleman and Mr Fulton confessed but quickly recanted.

After DNA testing linked the crime to a serial rapist, the two men were released from prison in November.

A  judge issued “certificates of innocence” in March, clearing their names.

Soon after that, Mr Coleman returned to his old job with the White Sox.

“Nevest was a good friend of mine back then and I was glad to have him back,” said Jerry Powe, his supervisor.

When I finally came home, all the anger was gone Nevest Coleman

“I’m real happy for him. Nice day today.”

The ballpark has a different look these days, thanks to major renovations while he was in prison.

Mr Coleman is simply glad to be back.

“When I finally came home, all the anger was gone,” he said.

“My grandbabies, I finally saw them. You can’t be miserable around them.”

Press Association

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