NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It was a crime Adam Braseel says he paid for but says he never committed.
“I guess the best way to describe it would be like I’ve been through everything a murderer goes through except the murder,” said Brasel who spent a total of 12 years in prison for murder, all the while maintaining his innocence.
"So the judge, Judge Angel- this just judge- he overturned my case and vacated all my charges Christmas Day,” he said.
It was the ultimate Christmas gift that only lasted ten months.
“I then found out that they wanted me to turn myself back in and they ended up coming to pick me up and then they put me back in jail,” said Braseel.
A Court of Criminal Appeals overruled the decision, sending him back to jail for 51 years until the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation updated its fingerprint database.
“Some people say it’s luck but, you know, she went and with this new technology she grabbed a hold of this case with a fingerprint and when she did that it low and behold revealed that it was somebody else,” said Braseel of the TBI agent who made the discovery.
New evidence showed his fingerprints were not a match in the crime.
“What we realized was there was not an avenue for post-conviction fingerprint testing," said Representative Michael Curcio who sponsored the bill.
Now Tennessee’s Post-Conviction Fingerprint Analysis law aims to change that. It creates a method for people convicted of certain offenses to petition for fingerprint analysis of evidence.
“I don’t believe there’s a nefarious actor here, it’s just that there’s human error involved. We know now that eye-witness testimony and statements are not as reliable as maybe we once thought they were,” said Curcio.
“So years ago if there was this law and it had been passed then I would have been able to ask or request for this fingerprint analysis," said Braseel, "so that would have revealed the truth and then I wouldn’t have been in prison all those years.” He hopes the new law will help the innocent find freedom, right under their fingertips.
Braseel's murder charges were dropped and he took an Alford plea deal to lesser charges. But he said a parole board voted unanimously to recommend his exoneration- something he hopes Governor Lee will grant.