Suspect in wrongful-conviction lawsuit is returned home after raising $900,000

Joe Atwood poses with a re-mastered radio program that offered evidence on his innocence. (Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

This week, a Missouri man was released from prison after being wrongfully convicted for a sexual assault he didn’t commit. Now, Joe Atwood’s world is expanding — beyond that of a convicted felon.

On Saturday, the Missouri Crime Victims United raised $886,000 from more than $913,000 in pledges for their campaign to free the 48-year-old. For now, he still doesn’t know how the money will be used, and the group hasn’t discussed where the money will come from, the Citizens Tribune reported. On Wednesday, Atwood’s mother declined to explain how the money would be spent but said “it’s just about him and getting him back.” Atwood was granted a new trial by a judge after DNA evidence was discovered proving he was wrongly convicted of the sexual assault of a relative when he was 19.

Atwood had spent 43 years in prison and three years on death row before his conviction was overturned in 2016. Atwood, who was born in Detroit, Michigan, in the 1970s, was living in Corpus Christi, Texas, when he was arrested. His son reported that his mother was crying when she learned that the family’s big dream — that her brother would be exonerated and released from prison — had come true. Atwood also had offers of housing and a job. Atwood and his family have now relocated to Denver.

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