DETROIT — Eddie Joe Lloyd broke into tears as he talked about Michelle Jackson, the Detroit teenager whose brutal rape and murder sent him to prison for 17 years.
A judge overturned Lloyd's conviction Monday after DNA tests showed he couldn't have killed the 16-year-old girl.
"If Michelle Jackson could have spoke from the grave, she would have told everybody Eddie Lloyd didn't do it," Lloyd said after he was freed.
Despite the lack of physical evidence, Lloyd was convicted in 1985 based heavily on a taped confession he made to Detroit police while he was in a mental hospital.
Lloyd said the officer who interviewed him indicated that his confession would help "flush out the real killer."
"I had no idea I would spend the next 17 years in prison," said Lloyd, 54.
On Monday, Lloyd hugged his sisters and talked about finally meeting his grandchildren.
"I want to run the 50-or 100-yard dash with my grandbabies," Lloyd said.
He said he wanted to repair his relationship with his family and perhaps have a career working with children, "to be a productive citizen so they can say, 'There's old man Lloyd. He's all right.' "
Lloyd becomes the 110th convicted person in the United States and the first in Michigan to be exonerated by DNA testing, according to the Innocence Project.
The genetic evidence in Jackson's slaying was gathered from a bottle and a pair of long johns found at the crime scene, as well as from evidence slides discovered three weeks ago, said Barry Scheck, an attorney with the Innocence Project.
The DNA doesn't match any samples in the FBI's database, meaning Lloyd couldn't have committed the crime.
Jackson was strangled with the long johns. Her body was discovered in an abandoned building on Jan. 25, 1984, a day after she disappeared while walking to school.
Jackson's family isn't taking the news well, Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan said. But he added, "I think they have come to believe that Mr. Lloyd did not do it."
Lloyd, who suffers from bipolar disorder, was in a mental hospital and on medication when police say he confessed to Jackson's murder. Police interviewed him after he wrote letters to a police sergeant saying he had information regarding a number of cases, including Jackson's.