‘I don’t know how they did this to you’
While in prison, Mr. Broadwater got his GED and studied the law, repeatedly trying to get his case reviewed. At one point, he hoped to keep Johnnie Cochran, sending $ 1,000 saved on his disability benefits and his job as a babysitter. But the law firm returned the money, informing him that it was not dealing with post-conviction matters.
Mr. Broadwater’s father, who believed in his innocence, wanted to help but was undergoing chemotherapy. He died in 1983.
At each parole hearing, Mr. Broadwater refused to admit his guilt, even though he knew he would be better off if he expressed responsibility for the crime. He wondered if he would die in prison like the inmate he had seen stabbed to death in a fight.
Sixteen years passed. He was finally released on the last day of 1998. But freedom came with a cage. A sex offender on parole, he had to adhere to a curfew and was barred from entering most workplaces.
He relied on temporary gigs, taking work in a metal plating factory, bagging potatoes, doing gardening and roofing jobs, mopping floors, collecting scrap metal. Night work was helpful to him as it provided him with the alibi he lacked when police questioned him about Ms Sebold. He believed he was home at the time, but had no proof.
The whispers that he was a rapist were deafening. Friends were rare. Mr. Broadwater’s use of the computer must have been monitored after his release, so he found it easier never to learn how to use one. Yet he continued to reach out to lawyers.
One disappeared with $ 1,400. Another failed to obtain Mr. Broadwater’s file, which had been sealed. When a car accident left Mr. Broadwater with a neck injury, he set aside most of the $ 30,000 payment, hoping he could find a lawyer to take his case.