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Maryland man to receive largest settlement in state's history for wrongful conviction

James Owens, now 57, was wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of a college student in 1987. The city of Baltimore is expected to send a $9 million check to Owens next month. It's the largest settlement of its kind in the state's history. (Image source: Video screenshot)

A Maryland man will soon receive millions from the city of Baltimore for his wrongful conviction for murder in 1987, WBM-TV reported.

James Owens, 57, spent more than two decades in prison for the gruesome rape and murder of a 24-year-old college student, Colleen Williar, which he didn't commit.

The city is expected to send a $9 million check to Owens next month. It's the largest settlement of its kind in the state's history.

DNA evidence finally cleared Owens more than 30 years after investigators botched the case that landed him in prison for 21 years.

“The mind starts to boggle as to what it must have been like to wake up in maximum security facilities for 21 years,” attorney Joshua Treem told WBM. “Facing life, wondering if you would survive the day, let alone the week or year, for something you know you did not do.”

Owens, who hangs gutters for a living, was released from prison in 2008.

How did the case get botched?

Owens' attorneys said investigators based their case on an unreliable source and buried key evidence.

“That was the fundamental error that set in motion the 21 years that Mr. Owens wrongly spent in jail,” attorney Andy Freeman told the news outlet.

Where will the $9 million come from?

The city is responsible for the payment. But Baltimore City Council President Jack Young wants the police union to pitch in on the payment.

“Some of that money should come out of their funds,” Young said. “I’m just tired of all these funds coming from the taxpayers of Baltimore City."

What did Owens say?

"No amount of money can give me back the time I lost," Owens said, according to his lawyer.

Did they find the real killer?

Police have not arrested any other suspects in the case. An innocent man paid the price for a killer who walked free.

One last thing…
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