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After 13 Years, It's 'Beautiful' to be Free Again

San Francisco Chronicle

When John "J.J." Tennison's mother told him a federal judge had reversed his murder conviction, the San Francisco man who had been sent to prison as a teenager more than 13 years ago refused to let himself believe it.

Tennison was convicted for crimes the San Francisco district attorney's office now concedes they did not commit. That concession came only after a federal judge ruled last week that the prosecution team -- which included then-inspector and now Chief of Police Earl Sanders -- unlawfully withheld evidence that might have proved their innocence at trial.

Tennison, who was freed from state prison Friday, made his first public comments about his release during a brief press conference at the offices of Keker & Van Nest, the San Francisco law firm that took up his case three years ago free of charge.

"I'm really happy to be back with my family. That's all I wanted," said Tennison, who was flanked by his mother, Dolly Tennison, his older brother, Bruce Tennison, and his sister-in-law Renee Tennison. "From day one, my family stood by me, and believed me when I said I didn't do it."  

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