A man who spent 21 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit passed away Sunday, less than a year after his release, the New York Daily News reports.
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Sharrif Wilson (pictured second from right) died around 11 p.m. at Mount Sinal Hospital, lawyer Adam Perlmutter said. He’d been there since December, complaining of breathing problems. Wilson had acute respiratory distress syndrome, a heart condition worsened by his prison time, his attorney said.
“He was a young healthy man when he went in and he was a sick unhealthy man when he came out,” Perlmutter commented.
Wilson had spent two plus decades locked up for killing Anthony Yarbough’s mother, 12-year-old sister and her friend, also 12, in 1992. Yarbough (pictured left of Wilson) was also charged in the gruesome killings; the three victims were choked with electrical cords and fatally stabbed.
Wilson, 38, confessed to the crime and testified against Yarbough for a lighter sentence. However, he later said officers coerced his admission. In 1999, DNA evidence from yet another murder victim matched that found on Yarbough’s mother, even though Yarbough and Wilson were still locked up at the time.
Brooklyn prosecutors eventually agreed to drop the case, releasing Yarbough and Wilson last February. Wilson’s family is understandably struggling with the loss.
“It felt like my heart was without my chest,” his sister Tiffany Wilson said. Her 3-year-old loved her uncle, she added, and was going to take her to ballet class.
Perlmutter said the family plans on filing civil lawsuits against the city and state for his prison term. Yarbough, who was reunited with Wilson for a CNN interview following their release, also expressed his remorse.
“I find it heartbreaking that a boy could serve  years for a crime he didn’t commit and finally come home and have only 11 months to spend with his family,” he said in a statement to the News.
“My heart breaks for the family and the mother that lost her son not once but twice.”