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Michael Phillips has been spending most of his time these days living in a tiny room in a no-frills northeast Dallas nursing home.Until recently, he had a roommate who slept in a bed 2 feet away, and staff brought him three square meals a day.

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Only a few hours passed each day in which he didn't think about his burden of four decades: being a convicted sex offender.That was before Friday,

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when Phillips was officially exonerated by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins' Conviction Integrity Unit, which determined via DNA testing that he was falsely convicted. The state will now pay him handsomely for its mistake.

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It was a first-of-its-kind exoneration in that Phillips wasn't clamoring for vindication. As was the case when he accepted a plea deal in 1990, he felt that his race would preclude him from getting a fair shake in the justice system, so he just accepted his plight.After entering hisplea,

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Phillips, a 57-year-old African-American who grew up in New Orleans, served 12 years in a Texas prison for the rape of a 16-year-old white girl at a Dallas motel where he'd worked as a maintenance man.Confined to a wheelchair due to his battle with sickle cell anemia, Phillips has been out of jail since 2002. He has been living in nursing homes the past few years as his health has spiraled downward.

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Though he's been out of prison for 12 years, he considers his life one long sentence, as he was forced to wear the branding of a convicted sex offender.

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In his first week as a free man, Phillips is overjoyed and struggles to put his emotions into words, instead pointing to the spirituality that helped him cope all these years."A-W-E doesn't describe the feeling.

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I don't know if they got a word that describes how I feel. To have a leash taken off my neck and off my ankle, I know how my ancestors felt when they got free,"

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he said.Falsely AccusedAccording to the Dallas Police Department report from September 28, 1990,

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the victim was awakened by a man wearing a black and white ski mask.While struggling with the man and biting his hand several times,

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the victim told police, she pulled up her assailant's mask and recognized him as Phillips, a man she had seen living at the motel.The following month,

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detectives showed the victim a six-picture lineup, and she again identified Phillips as the man who raped her.(The Dallas Police Department no longer presents photos side by side,

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because the district attorney's office says it suggests that the perpetrator must be present and compels the victim to pick one.)It didn't help that Phillips had a record.

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In an interview with CNN, Phillips acknowledged committing a home burglary when he was 19."Being young and foolish, there were things you do that were juvenile,"

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he said.But at 32, he was trying to make an honest living and was shocked to hear that he was being charged with a rape that he hadn't committed.

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He feels that the prior burglary conviction and a "broken criminal justice system" were to blame for the bad advice he got next."The first paid public defender came in there and said, '

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Mr. Phillips, the DA went back and saw that you just got out of prison a couple of years ago, so they want to lock you up for 99 years.' He thought he was doing me a favor. He said, '

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You could get life, so you are going to take this 99 years.' "

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mandyyang, 8/27/2011 10:13:17 PM
Hey Shaqueen,

Good to "see" you. i have gained back all my weight and about 10 pounds more. I am slowly trying to ate least eat better until I get my head really into it. I hope we can keep in touch
BikerMama, 5/17/2011 11:49:29 AM
What is the Fat Smash Diet?
jackie_p, 5/26/2009 8:40:23 AM
Shaqueen! :)
In your log you recently said ... "I'm telling you eating healthy requires work ... it's like having a part-time job ... but so worth it." That is so well-said and so true.
It sounds like you are doing really great in maintaining your efforts and achieving results. I look forward to seeing new pictures of you and hearing more about your progress in this never-ending process. :)
jana_, 4/5/2009 5:52:47 AM
Hi Shaqueen!
Remember me from the summer? :) I'm glad you're still on here and doing so well.
Life is still hectic with classes and dance, but it's a bit calmer than it was in the fall and I'm back on.
Are you in an open group?
Hope all is well.
Joanne - from north east philly and your summer group
blueyes79, 1/7/2008 10:46:38 PM
So you have a lot to lose, eh? Me too. If I don't lose, I'll lose something more precious, my life. I haven't read but your post of 5/31 and it seems to me you're on the right track with the water. The calories are okay for now, but if you continue to eat so little, you may get bored.
Patty from California
wahine, 5/31/2007 1:28:11 PM