Exonerated Michigan Man Imprisoned 45 Years for Murder He Didn't Commit Will Get $1.5 Million
An exonerated Michigan man who spent 45 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit has been awarded $1.5 million in compensation.
The compensation, for 73-year-old Richard Phillips, was announced Friday by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel as part of $2.3 total awarded to three wrongfully convicted men.
Before they receive the money, state legislators must first approve the payout.
Phillips was freed in 2017, thanks to the investigative efforts of several University of Michigan law students working in conjunction with the Wayne County prosecutor’s office.
Phillips, who received a life sentence after his murder conviction in 1971, has served more prison time than any other exonerated inmate in American history.
According to state law, Phillips was entitled to more than $2 million in compensation — $50,000 for every year he spent wrongfully imprisoned.
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As Phillips sat in his cell, he used art as an escape.
The former auto worker was able to purchase painting supplies with the money he made selling handmade cards to his fellow inmates. When his cellmate would leave each morning, he would pull out his supplies, and paint inspirational scenes based on photographs he’d find in newspapers.
Earlier this year, he decided to sell some of that art to make ends meet.
While incarcerated, Phillips created 400 watercolor paintings, and mailed them to a friend on the outside for safe keeping.
Today, his paintings are selling for thousands of dollars.
MLive.com reports that Nessel, in a press release, stated, “Conceding that no system is perfect, the government’s public recognition and overturning of the convictions of these men helps to foster a healing process, and assures Michiganders that the government– regardless of fault – will take ownership of its errors.”
Gabi Silver, the attorney who represents Phillips, previously described him as one of the “warmest, kindest, most considerate” people she had ever met.
“To suffer what he has suffered, to still be able to find good in people and to still be able to see the beauty in life — it’s remarkable,” Silver said.