(KSDK) - Johnny Briscoe walked into a room full of reporters Thursday, but a man full of confidence couldn’t hold back 23 years of emotions.
For 23 years, Briscoe sat in prison knowing he shouldn’t be there. But during the news conference, he was able to prove to everyone that he was right and justice did him wrong.
He spent more than two decades in prison for a rape and burglary that he didn’t commit. It took a man from New Jersey to help get him out.
“I visited Johnny in prison and had a three-hour interview and walking away, I was convinced he was innocent,” said Jim McCloskey of Centurion Ministries.
But it took four searches by prosecutors before they found the evidence that could set him free. That evidence was DNA on a cigarette butt found the night of the crime.
“It’s been like a war. (It) feels like I’ve been over in Iraq fighting a war, but I’ve been here on my own home front fighting the … justice system,” said Briscoe.
Briscoe said he always knew he’d get out, but there were times he nearly lost his hope.
“I did what I had to do. It’s been a long struggle, a hard struggle, but I held strong,” said Briscoe.
Now that his fight is over, his family said it’s time to put the past behind them and look forward to a future together.
“We’re just going to take this one day at a time. We haven’t though ahead. We’re just excited about him being home. This is my best friend,” said sister Ruth Briscoe.
The man responsible for the 1982 rape is already serving time for another assault. The man knew Johnny Briscoe and used his name during the attack.
Briscoe is the third St. Louis County case Centurian Ministries has taken on in the last 20 years. The organization is currently working on a fourth case.