Dontae Sharpe is coming up on the first anniversary of his exoneration. On August 22, 2019, the state of North Carolina admitted it had mistakenly imprisoned him for 24 years for a murder he didn’t commit and refused to admit, no matter how many plea deals they offered him – and let him go.
“I walked out of the courtroom and looked up at the sky, and it looked different,” he says. “There’s free sky and there’s locked up sky, and I was looking up at the free one.”
Sharpe is 45, drawls like the woods-roaming “country boy” he says he is and has a lively voice that seems always on the verge of a laugh. He’s a man who loves to cook and says his first day out he ate chicken, fish, shrimp and steak. He wept when he held his grandchildren for the first time, and again when they called him “grandpa.”
Sharpe’s incarceration spanned four presidencies – Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump – and in all that time the only voting he ever got to do concerned which show to watch on the sole TV in the common area, or which products and brands should be stocked in the commissary.
“The majority ruled,” he says with a chuckle.
Read the article in The United States of Unequality, Capital & Main