30-Year Death Row Inmate Celebrates First Days of Freedom

Anthony Ray Hinton learns to re-adjust to a new life in a world with computers and social media.
8:51 | 04/24/15

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Transcript for 30-Year Death Row Inmate Celebrates First Days of Freedom
going to see a man feel the rain on his face for the first time in nearly 30 years. You'll also see him learn to use instagram and the atm. Why? Because he was just released from death row in a case that raises serious questions about race, class and America's justice system. For our new "Nightline" series "Firsts," here's my coanchor Byron Pitts. For 30 years Anthony ray Hinton was a dead man walking. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you lord! Reporter: But not now. Family prayers answered. A dream no longer deferred. 30 years ago, prosecution seemed to take my life from me. Reporter: 58 years old Hinton lived half of his life in a cage, Hinton correctional facility in Alabama. Here men do time and time stands still. Today he is seeing and experiencing things for the first time in decades. When you were a kid and your daddy took you on a ride and you want to see everything. Just be looking. Make me really appreciate freedom more would you believe this is the first time I have been in the rain in 30 years? It feels wonderful. Yes, it feels wonderful. Reporter: We joined him as he began his rebirth of sorts. What's it like to be able to walk where you want to walk, when you want to walk? Oh, it's -- it's unbelievable. I really have to catch myself. Oh, my goodness. Reporter: He's welcomed home. A party in hifrz his honor, hosted by the equal justice initiative, led by attorney Bryan Stevenson and his team of attorneys who fought for decades to win Hinton's freedom. Thank you for giving me my life back. Just being here, as a team, you can say that you got an innocent man off of death row. Reporter: His nightmare began in 19885. Ronald Reagan was president, back to the future was a box office hit and two restaurant managers were shot dead at closing time just months apart. A third victim another man who survived the shooting helped to identify Anthony ray Hinton as the killer. You are a free man now. What does that mean to you? It means everything. You never think about your freedom until it is taken away from you. You couldn't put a price tag on it. Reporter: Even simple pleasures like the convenience of using a computer. Heard about Facebook and Twitter. We have been putting pictures of you on instagram. There were over 3,000 people that liked this picture of you getting out. Reporter: Teaching him tho to use the atm for the first time, even though he doesn't have much money. That's when you have to put in a little code. $12 already. Reporter: So much about the world has changed but the world without his mother. She died while he was locked away. It can't get no lower for me. I'm not ashamed, I'm proud. She was the love of my life. I didn't grow up with a father. So my mother was my father and my mother. And she did everything she could. Reporter: He goes back to the home they shared together now abandoned. I hate to see it in this shape. Reporter: I it's his first time there since the night it was all taken away. I was screaming mama, mama, and my mom got toward the vent and I just -- they had me in handcuffs back here and I just did like that. And she went to screaming, what you got? What's going on? What you got him arrested for? Why are these those handcuffs on my baby for? The detective said I have your momma's pistol. This is where his mother kept the .38 caliber pistol. They said it was the murder weapon. A persuasive expert he was not. His ballistics expert was blind. In one eye, that's correct. He asked how to turn on the machine. He couldn't see it. He had to ask somebody please help me. When they put him on the stand as my witness, they crucified him. I said, they are going to find me guilty. Reporter: This document prepared by the state's ballistics experts indicates a number of questions about whether the bullet's matched the gun. The defense was never given this document. Mr. Hinton actually pass ed a polygraph test when they first arrested him. Passed it. He had an alibi. He was actually working in a warehouse when one of these crimes took place. Reporter: Tom dole was an alibi he was Hinton's work supervisor back then. As far as I know he was sweeping the floor. Reporter: Sweeping floors 15 miles from the crime scene. He didn't do it. He was not gone long enough to do that if he was gone at all. Reporter: Hinton was sentenced to death. That shook my faith in the system. Reporter: What was the bigger hurdle, class or race? No question class, poverty. Because without the money to prove it -- I think had Mr. Hinton had the experts that we were ultimately bringing to this case he would not have been convicted. Reporter: He was ordered to spend the remainder of his life in prison, living in a 5x7 cell. Pretty much in a fetal position because your feet hang over the bed. You have a bed that is mounted to the wall and a toilet and that's what I lived in for 30 years. Reporter: Men had taken his freedom, not his soul. They took me 30s, my 40s, my 50s. But what they couldn't take was my joy. I couldn't do a thing about the years, but I could control my joy. Reporter: 53 inmates were executed in Holman while Hinton was on death row. My dogs remember, so many people I got to know be executed. Reporter: He languished in prison for years before his case reached appeals court. I had never been so convinced of someone's innocence than I had in plan Mr. Hinton's case. Reporter: The judge was one of those appellate court judges that believed the story. There was no incriminating evidence, nothing from the robbery, no finger prints. Reporter: His appeal denied but his team kept fighting. We had exhausted every state court appeal and the united States supreme court finally intervened. Reporter: The result was a new trial, the break Hinton had been waiting for. A few weeks ago, the state of Alabama dropped the case after a new look at the evidence could not match the bullets to the gun, and Hinton was released. But one man's joy, another's heart ache. The son of one of the victims declined our request for an interview, releasing the statement. All the stories are saying he is innocent and he was not. He was never proven innocent. He will be judged by god. He will see true justice one day, god will show him that I didn't do it. This is my first piece. Reporter: How does it taste? Good. Reporter: He hasn't lost his sense of humor. Since I have been longed up 30 years and finances is tight, $5 a slice. Reporter: I don't sense bitterness. Why is that? Bitterness kills the soul. I cannot hate because my bible teaches me not to hate. I've seen hate at its worst. What would it profit me to hate? Well, I think my next big project is to try to get the money to restore my momma's house and this will be a place I can lay my head and call it my own and give it the respect that I know she would be proud of. Reporter: Freedom he is learning has never been free, or easy. For "Nightline," I'm Byron Pitts in Montgomery, Alabama.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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