Sharrif Wilson, who spent 21 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, died Jan. 11 less than a year after his release, according to the New York Daily News.
“It felt like my heart was without my chest,” said sister Tiffany Wilson, 28, of her loss, in an interview with the Daily News.
Wilson, 38, had been hospitalized at Mount Sinal Hospital since December due to breathing problems. Wilson had acute respiratory distress syndrome, a heart condition that became worst during his time in prison.
“He was a young healthy man when he went in and he was a sick unhealthy man when he came out,” lawyer Adam Perlmutter said, according to NewsOne.
Wilson spent over two decades behind bars for allegedly choking then stabbing to death co-defendant Anthony Yarbough’s 40-year-old mother, 12-year-old sister and her friend, also 12, in 1992. The men were 15 and 18, respectively, at the time of their arrest.
Wilson confessed to the murders and also testified against Yarbough as part of a plea deal for a lighter sentence. He later recanted, however, saying detectives had coerced his confession.
Anthony Yarbough (left) and Shariff Wilson (right). (Screengrab CNN interview)
In 1999, DNA evidence from another murder victim matched the DNA found on Yarbough’s mother, even though Yarbough and Wilson still remained incarcerated at the time. And, Brooklyn prosecutors finally reversed the convictions, releasing both Yarbough and Wilson last February.
“I find it heartbreaking that a boy could serve  years for a crime he didn’t commit and finally come home and have only 11 months to spend with his family,” Perlmutter told the Daily News.
The family plans on filing civil lawsuits against the city and state for Wilson’s wrongful imprisonment.
Yarbough, who was reunited with Wilson for a CNN interview following their release, also expressed his remorse. “My heart breaks for the family and the mother that lost her son not once but twice,” Yarbough said in a statement.