As he put 25 years of prison time served for a crime he didn't commit, Monday marked the first day in the rest of Darryl Pinkins' life.
The 63-year-old Indiana father walked out of Lake County jail after spending just a month shy of a quarter-century behind bars after he was convicted in 1991 for what prosecutors said was his participation in a horrific 1989 gang rape.
After years of unflinchingly maintaining his innocence, Pinkins was set free thanks to one of the newest innovations in DNA analysis.
The technology is so new, in fact, that Pinkins is the first inmate ever set free with its help.
"It feels like this day was - was meant to be. And I know it was," Pinkins told reporters outside the jail after friends and family greeted him in a tearful reunion. "This is a new beginning."
One of the emotional family members waiting for Pinkins was his son, who hadn't even been born.
Pinkins maintained during his 1991 trial that he'd been in bed with his wife when prosecutors said five men raped a woman for hours after the victim identified him as one of her attackers.
"I stood back as an innocent man watching it fold out before me, and it wasn't right," Pinkins said.
For decades, Pinkins continued to campaign to have his name cleared.
"Until recently, there was no technology that could really do what I call, dissects DNA mixture," Fran Watson, Pinkins' attorney with the Indiana Innocence Project told reporters.
The new technology is a DNA analysis program called TrueAllele. The process can be used to tease out the DNA of individuals from DNA mixtures.
"Once they explained to us what DNA was, we told them to bring the test on because we know where we were," Pinkins said.
After the test, Pinkins found himself cleared of the rape conviction and Lake County prosecutors have declined to put him back on trial.
"We were 100 percent certain that we did in fact have the right person," Bernard Carter, Lake County prosecutor said. However, "when you look at the evidence that stands now, it would be an injustice for us to even attempt to try Mr. Pinkins. We would not convict him."