DETROIT (WJBK) - A man in prison for 21 years for a murder he says he didn't commit learned Monday he will get a new trial and be released on bond.
"I want to hug my son, kiss him, tell him I love him -- that's what I want to do. It's been a long time since I put my arms around him," Delores Monson said.
"Tomorrow is Lamarr's birthday by the way. What a great gift for him," said his uncle Edgar Thomas.
Turning 45 years old on Tuesday, Monson has a daughter who's now grown and a 3-year-old granddaughter he's never met.
The Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan is responsible for this gift of freedom.
"We're just elated. This is a case we've been working on since 2011 and we've been convinced all this time that he's innocent," said David Moran, director of the Innocence Clinic.
In 1996, Monson's girlfriend was a runaway named Christina Brown who had told Monson she was 17 when in reality she was just 12 years old.
Brown and Monson sold drugs out of an apartment in Detroit.
That's where Monson discovered her bloody body.
He alerted police but quickly became their suspect and was coerced into confessing he stabbed Brown to death.
But days after his supposed confession, police were told Brown had been stabbed but was actually beaten to death with the top of the toilet tank. Monson was still convicted and it took the Innocence Clinic to prove bloody prints on the toilet tank are not Monson's but are those of another man named Robert Lewis.
Lewis's ex-girlfriend has since testified Lewis killed Brown when he went to get drugs from her, and had blood dripping from his fingernails afterward.
He has not been charged and it's unclear if he will be.
"The Detroit Police Department had in their custody the very evidence that freed this man today. They didn't bother to do very important things like follow a blood trail down the very hallway where the body was found where the murder took place," said Bill Proctor, a private investigator.
A new trial date has been scheduled for April but Monson is due back in court before then in March, and they're hoping the Wayne County prosecutor will drop the charges against him.
"Hopefully this is going to lead to justice for Christina Brown, who was not killed by Lamarr Monson, who was killed by someone else and we have overwhelming evidence of that," Moran said.
"I'm hoping they'll drop the charges he's suffered long enough -- 21 years and 10 days; don't you think that's long enough?" Delores Monson said.
Relatives are in the process of raising the $25,000 required to have Monson released on bond.