Local News

Taylor: Two years of freedom can't undo 17 years behind bars

Posted April 12, 2012 4:08 p.m. EDT
Updated April 13, 2012 5:32 a.m. EDT

Greg Taylor and daughter, Kristen Puryear

— After more than 17 years behind bars for a murder he didn't commit, the two years since Greg Taylor was exonerated have been all about adjusting to freedom and making up for lost time with his family.

"I'm still kind of finding myself," he said earlier this week. "I'm content, but I don't see myself as being normal, per se."

When Taylor walked out of a Wake County courtroom in February 2010, he stepped into a world he didn't recognize. He saw a cellphone for the first time. He used the Internet. He changed out his prison-issued glasses for more modern eyewear. He hugged his family and held them close.

He was free.

Some things had to be learned all over again – eating with a fork and knife, for example. Others came to him naturally – traveling, exercising and spending time with his daughter and grandsons.

Freedom has been good to Taylor. He bought a house in Durham and has traveled the state speaking out about his ordeal.

"I wake up happy, and I go to bed happy," he said.

But it hasn't always been easy.

"You just can't undo 17 years in two years, or even five years, maybe," he said. "You don't have any future with a life sentence, so you just kind of give up all those hopes, all those aspirations."

Now, Taylor is rediscovering his dreams and trying to figure out what to do with the next 17 years – and beyond.

"If I was hopeful of anything today, I would be hopeful to find some purpose for what I've been through," he said. "I'm trying to learn how to be 50 years old when my mind still thinks I'm 30."