"I thank you for being my reason to live," Eddie Bolden told his family Sunday

By Alex Heigl
Updated April 26, 2016 02:30 PM
Credit: Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune

For the last 22 years, Eddie Bolden sat in an Illinois prison, convicted of killing two men.

The only hitch: He didn’t do it. It was just this year he was exonerated of the crime, and this week he was freed, just in time to see his son Dom graduate from college.

“I was anxious to see him walk across the stage,” Eddie told the South Bend Tribune. “I can’t stop crying.”

“This is a very important day,” Dom told the paper. “I can’t put it in words. It’s a great feeling.”

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Eddie maintained his innocence since he was convicted. Susan Carlson, a private investigator who died in 2013, uncovered three witnesses not interviewed by Eddie’s defense team, who provided a compelling alibi for him. A judge ruled that the evidence they introduced was credible enough to have led to his acquittal two decades ago, if jurors had heard it, and overturned his conviction.

Eddie saw Dom and his other son Antonio frequently – thanks to the efforts of Dom’s mother, grandmother and aunt – and spoke to them regularly on the phone.

“You all are the reason I didn’t give up,” Eddie told his sons on Sunday. “There were days that I didn’t want to live. The only thing that stopped me from giving up is that I knew it would hurt you all. I thank you for being my reason to live.”