Former death-row inmate rebuilds life outside of prison
Posted April 1, 2009 4:35 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Glen Edward Chapman's nightmare ended a year ago Thursday, and he said he has spent every day since then in a dream.
Chapman was sentenced to death for two 1992 murders, but he walked out of prison on April 2, 2008, a free man after Catawba County authorities dropped all charges against him.
Chapman was convicted in 1994 of the murders of Betty Jean Ramseur and Tenene Yvette Conley in Hickory. A judge granted him a new trial in late 2007 after learning that detectives in the case had withheld and covered up evidence that pointed to Chapman's innocence and that one investigator had perjured himself at Chapman’s original trial.
After his release from death row, Chapman said, he began to appreciate little things like listening to birds outside, opening doors and getting his own food.
"I feel like I already hit the lottery," Chapman said Wednesday.
He has moved to Asheville, where he rents a home and works at a hotel.
"It was important to me to prove something to myself, that I can adapt," he said.
An admitted drug addict and alcoholic when he went into prison, Chapman said he's now a better man. Even after losing 15 years of his life, he said, he isn't bitter.
"I can forgive. Does it mean I have to forget? No, but I can use that as a lesson to teach someone else," he said.
Chapman spends part of his time traveling across North Carolina to speak about his case and exoneration. He said he wants to shed light on a flawed justice system he believes has wronged many other people.
Life outside prison does have its problems, he said, noting he anxiously awaited a $98 state income tax refund only to learn that officials planned to apply it toward court costs from the wrongful conviction.
"They can keep the $98 as far as I'm concerned," he said.
Hickory police haven't named another suspect in the 1992 murder case, but Chapman maintains his innocence.
His supporters plan to file for an official pardon this week, and if granted, he could receive $40,000 from the state for each year he spent in prison.
"I can't control the future, but I can control me. I can control my actions," he said.