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In first year of freedom, Taylor savors holiday with family

For Greg Taylor, who was imprisoned for almost 17 years and exhonerated earlier this year, the holiday takes on a whole new meaning.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Most Americans take it for granted that Thanksgiving is a day to spend with family and friends. For some, that company can even bring a bit of stress.

But for Greg Taylor, who was imprisoned for almost 17 years but exonerated earlier this year, the holiday takes on a whole new meaning.

"For so many years I missed my family, and dreaded the holidays because of that. It's kind of different to be looking forward to them," Taylor said Thursday.

Taylor was convicted in 1993 of stabbing and beating Jacquetta Thomas, of Cary.

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission found in February that there was clear and convincing evidence that proved Taylor is innocent, making him the first person in North Carolina's history to be freed because of the Innocence Commission's involvement.

Since that time, Taylor has spent most of his time getting to know the family he nearly lost.

Thursday was his first Thanksgiving with them.

"I haven't spent a Thanksgiving with my father in 15, 18 years," said Kristen Puryear. "I don't remember the last one, but he's been missed, definitely." 

Puryear was nine when her father went to prison. She is married and has a two-year-old son.

"I'm real proud of her and happy for the way she's grown up, but there's a part of me that's always going to be sad because I missed all of that," Taylor said.

He said he has found new meaning in this holiday.

"Every day since I have been out has been a real thanksgiving. If this is the celebration, the symbol of all that, yes, this would have to be the best Thanksgiving, absolutely," he said.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Chad Flowers, Photographer
Anne Johnson, Web Editor
Jodi Leese Glusco, Web Editor

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