US Marijuana Party

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Innocent man haunted by decades in prison

Duluth News Tribune, MN
By Laurin Sellers
The Orlando Sentinel

PORT ST. JOHN, Fla. - Wilton Dedge hits the brakes every time he sees a patrol car, even if he's driving under the speed limit. He keeps boxes of receipts from gas stations, stores and fast-food places - just in case he might have to prove where he was.

And he rarely goes anywhere alone.

Nearly two years after being freed from prison, the man who served 22 years for a rape he didn't commit is terrified of being sent back.

"I still get nervous around police," said Dedge, 44.

Twenty-four years ago, he was a high-school dropout who loved to surf and party when a sheriff's agent came looking for him at his parents' home in Port St. John. He ended up being convicted twice and sentenced to life because a 17-year-old girl said he attacked her Dec. 8, 1981, and he couldn't prove he was somewhere else.

Dedge finally was released in August 2004 after DNA testing confirmed his innocence. But nearly two years later, he remains scarred by all those years in jail as an innocent man.


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