CNN sat down with exoneree Derrick Hamilton in his Brooklyn home to talk about his wrongful conviction and how, with the support and advocacy of his wife Nicole, he eventually won his freedom and cleared his name.
Derrick and Nicole met in 1991, shortly before his arrest for a murder he did not commit. After Derrick’s wrongful conviction, Nicole visited him in prison every week, driving six hours each way to Attica Correctional Facility from her home in Connecticut. Nicole told CNN she knew Derrick was innocent, and vowed to stick by him through his 25-to-life sentence. They were married at Attica in 2005.
“He always told me he was innocent, and he always told me he was going to prove to the world that he was innocent,” Nicole told CNN. “And it just really showed me that your determination, even just your self-will is your power.”
Between visits and calls from Nicole, Derrick studied law, looking for ways to get his case back in court. With Nicole’s help, he filed many motions from prison.
In 2010, Nicole organized a protest to free Derrick at City Hall. According to CNN, a Daily News reporter took notice and published a story on Derrick’s case. Attorney Jonathan Edelstein later agreed to represent him. He was released on parole in 2011 and finally exonerated in 2015.
Derrick recently opened a restaurant in Brooklyn with fellow New York exoneree Shabaka Shakur and provides guidance and legal expertise to other wrongfully convicted individuals.
Derrick Hamilton will be on the Innocence Project’s Voices for Innocence panel at the New School tonight at 7pm. Live-stream it on our Facebook page.
Watch/read the CNN feature here.