Okla. to Pay Back Man Wrongly Imprisoned for 13 Years

After 2 decades, state agrees to compensate Thomas Webb III $175,000
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2017 7:47 PM CST
Wrong Man Spent 13 Years in Prison. He's About to Get $175K
An unbelievable story.   (Getty Images/sakhorn38)

How much are 13 years of your life worth? Per the state of Oklahoma, $175,000 should cover it for Thomas Webb III, who spent that amount of time behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. Per NBC News, Webb's lawyers say that after 20 years of on-again, off-again lobbying, the state has finally agreed to compensate him under the Tort Claims Act passed there in 2003, which caps payback for the wrongly imprisoned at that amount. The National Registry of Exonerations tells Webb's story, which began in March 1982 with the rape of a University of Oklahoma student, for which Webb was ultimately convicted in 1983 and sentenced to 60 years in prison after the victim mistakenly IDed him in a lineup. In 1996, DNA testing proved Webb wasn't the rapist, and after a new trial, the charges were dropped and he was released.

His fight for compensation took many swerves, and he struggled with drugs, homelessness, and his marriage (he eventually divorced). But Webb then found his current lawyer, who persistently pushed his case, and the state AG who took over for Scott Pruitt when he left to head Trump's EPA finally signed off on payment. In an NBC News story last year, Webb revealed he's since become friendly with his accuser, who has apologized for her mistake, and that they still meet for lunch. "He is a good man," she told NBC, which takes an in-depth look at their emotional meeting 32 years after she first faced him in a courtroom. What Webb tells NBC he's going to do with the money once he signs the papers that arrived Tuesday and a judge OKs them: Pay back his ex-wife for all of the money she poured into clearing his name, as well as settle back taxes. What he'd still like from the state: "a public apology." (More exoneration stories.)

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