NEW ORLEANS -- Nathan Brown embraced his daughter for the first time outside prison walls. She introduced him to his grandson, born while Brown served 17 years of a 25-year sentence for rape.
“It's really a relief mentally, physically, to be free for serving time for a crime you didn't commit,” he said.
“Whoo, we have to do everything. Start all over. You know we have a good daughter-father relationship,” said Celene Brady, Brown’s daughter. “I'm just waiting to see what he's going to do."
Back in 1997, prosecutors said the 23-year-old brown raped a 40-year-old woman outside of an apartment building where both lived. Despite the victim saying the attacker left on a bicycle, authorities arrested Brown at his home, going off a description from a security guard who did not see the rape. Brown was eventually convicted.
“And you were just sitting there and all you could do is just pray and hope that God would prevail, that he would send a savior,” Brown said.
Brown always maintained his innocence, and with the help of the Innocence Project, DNA testing was conducted on the victim's dress. A saliva stain that was found matched another convicted offender, who at the time of the crime lived blocks away from the victim's apartment.
“There can be no question that Nate Brown is actually innocent. The district attorney says it, the DNA says it. The person who actually committed this crime has been identified,” said Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project.
Now 40 years old, Brown has lost a lot of time but has regained his freedom.
“And just glad to be free,” he said. “I just thank god for it, and I just want to move on with my life."
Understandably, Brown said his immediate plans are to spend time with his family. Brown is at least the 15th person exonerated by DNA evidence in Louisiana since 1999.