Evans Brothers Free From Pennsylvania Prison After Clemency The Evans brothers are now home in Philadelphia after decades in prison. Convicted of second degree murder, they had few options for release in Pennsylvania under current law.

Brothers Who Expected To Die In Pennsylvania Prison Now Free After Clemency

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Two brothers who expected to die in prison are now free and home in Philadelphia. NPR's Carrie Johnson featured their case in a story she did earlier this month. Here's her update.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Wyatt and Reid Evans spent 37 years behind bars for their part in a carjacking gone bad. The brothers didn't intend to take a life in 1980. They stole a car and dropped off the driver at a pay phone booth. But the man later died of a heart attack. The brothers refused a plea deal and were convicted of second-degree murder. Under Pennsylvania law, that meant life.

KRIS HENDERSON: There's a lot that they've missed in their lives being in prison.

JOHNSON: That's Kris Henderson, executive director of the Amistad Law Project, which worked on a legal case with the Evans brothers.

HENDERSON: The daughter of the man who died in their case, you know, she wanted them to be home.

JOHNSON: Following an NPR story this month, now they are. Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman has been trying to revamp the pardons and commutations process.

JOHN FETTERMAN: Just this past Friday, we got 13 individuals out that were condemned to die in prison. In most cases, a majority of them never directly took a life.

JOHNSON: The pardon board had approved clemency for the Evans brothers and 11 others months ago, but it took a while before Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf finally signed the papers that would lead to their release. A lawsuit over the issue is moving through the courts. Fetterman says the state legislature should take the wheel and tweak the law for the people still in prison.

FETTERMAN: And this would be an elegant, quick solution to addressing something that has been a grave miscarriage of justice here in Pennsylvania. This is not justice. The penalty does not fit the crime.

JOHNSON: Henderson, a lawyer for the Evans brothers, says they're getting used to life on the outside. They were arrested at age 18 and 19. Now they're middle-aged men.

HENDERSON: And there's a lot of shifts that have happened really quickly in their lives. They're very much still getting settled.

JOHNSON: For now, Henderson says, they're keeping a low profile, spending time with their ailing father and thinking about starting their own families someday.

Carrie Johnson, NPR News.

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