His name is Nick Yarris and he served a full 22 years in solitary confinement and on death row in a United States prison for a crime he knew nothing about.
While in prison, Yarris suffered all kinds of horrors. He was strangled, stabbed, violently beaten and even shared cell space with some of the worst serial killers ever to come out of the United States. He endured all these things knowing he was guiltless.
Yarris was a common street gangster who was framed twice by the police at age 20. The first attempt did not stick but the second was the one that put him on death row for 22 years.
For mote than two decades, the world saw him as a dangerous rapist and murderer, and he endured it for two decades, fighting to prove his innocence but failing ….and then came the day when he felt completely defeated. He asked a judge to put him to death and that was when the truth came to light.
What Was It Like Spending 22 years On death row for A Crime You Know Nothing About?
Certainly, it was an endless nightmare but Nick Yarris got through it.
He was locked up in a small windowless room 24/7 with only brief periods of exercise in a cage. His neighbors were 150 other death row inmates, some of whom were downright deadly.
Talking was forbidden in the prison, the beating was constant and he had to watch his back and every move he made.
Nick Yarris, now 56, was released from jail in Pennsylvania in 2004 after new DNA tests proved his innocence beyond doubt. His case has received worldwide coverage since then …. the man who spent 22 years of his life in jail for a crime he never committed or knew anything about.
Documentaries have been made about his story, he’s written a book titled ‘The Fear of 13’ and now he’s down in Los Angeles with a multimillion dollar contract to turn the whole thing into a movie.
Today, Yarris has spoken before the British Parliament, the United Nation has even made him stand before them in a session, he has dined with presidents and even world-famous actors. All of this is due to his incredible story and how he presents it.
This is the present life of a man wrongly sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a woman named Linda Mae Craig in 1981, a woman he had never even met before,
While in jail, Yarris read over 9,500 books as he tutored himself on law in a bid to represent himself and prove his innocence, something which eventually took more than two decades to accomplish.
The Origin Of the Whole Thing
This incredible tale began when Yarris was of the tender age of 20.
He lived in Philadelphia where crime was rife but he managed to have a nice childhood with his five siblings until he was sexually assaulted at the age of seven.
He told no one, not even his parents and, unfortunately, the trauma of that incident transformed him into something else. His behavior changed for the worse and in no time, he was a drug and alcohol addict…. all this while still a teenager.
In 1981, at the age of 20, Yarris got arrested on the charge of attempting to kidnap and murder a police officer after he got pulled over in a stolen vehicle.
This was an overblown charge that would never have stuck but young Yarris, with his drug blown mind, made the mistake of offering the police officers a bargaining chip to facilitate his release.
He told them he knew the man responsible for the murder of a woman named Linda Mae Craig. At that time, the murder case of this woman was rocking the media in the United States.
Yarris gave the police the name of a man that he thought was dead and so hard to trace. His lie was blown wide open when the police tracked the man down.
The police officers then turned around and charged Nick Yarris with the crimes instead and made it an open and close case despite the fact that Yarris had several alibis placing him far from the crime scene.
He was convicted of the crime and put on death row.
They sent him to one of the most dangerous prisons in the United States, the notorious Huntingdon State Correctional Institute which is located outside Pittsburgh and there he was placed in a disciplinary unit where talking or even whispering was banned.
In 1985, Yarris broke out of jail but after several months on the run, he eventually turned himself in to the police in Florida and there shared a cell with one of America’s most famous serial killers, Ted Bundy, until he was moved back to a Pennsylvanian Jail.
Yarris taught himself law and soon after he took over his own case in 1988, DNA testing got introduced to the crime world and he became the very first man on death row to demand it.
Unfortunately, a lot of technical glitches and mismanagement of evidence in the labs saw the years drag on until Yarris eventually got frustrated.
In 2002, he did the strangest thing. He wrote a judge and asked to be put to death.
Interestingly, before acting on the request, the judge ordered all evidence and DNA left in the case be retested.
And that was the break!
DNA tests showed that there had been two different men in Linda Mae Craig’s car and their DNA was also found on her clothes…. no traces of Yarris DNA were found anywhere.
The bottom line was that Linda Mae Craig had actually been raped and murdered by two men not one and those men had walked free while Yarris, an innocent young man not yet in his prime, was sentenced to death for their crimes.
Yarris was released from jail and compensated by the government. But what amount of money can repay a man for 22 years of the best part of his life spent locked up in an iron cage?
Today, Yarris live in England with his spouse Laura and her two children and the new film about his life is to be directed by none other than Alejandro Monteverde.
His book, ‘The Fear of 13’ is now available on Amazon.