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A unique band came to Salt Lake City Sunday night to raise money for a cause that is close to their hearts. All of them served several years in prison for crimes they did not commit.
The group of exonerated musicians performed several original songs at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in front of a packed house. The event was to raise money for the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center, which works to free wrongly convicted people in Utah. The center has helped exonerate two people in the past year, including Deb Brown, who served 17 years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.
The band sang about the pain of being locked up unfairly, and the joy of regaining their freedom. “It was Jesus who set me free!” Darby Tillis sang, during the concert’s opening song.
“This group just formed recently,” said Katie Monroe, the Director of RMIC. “This was their very first public performance.”
Some of the musicians, like Tillis, were locked up for ten years. Others were behind bars for nearly three decades.
“It was a total travesty,” said William Dillon. He spent 27 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of murder in Florida.
“I was young. At first I didn’t believe it because you believe in the justice system.”
Dillon gained his freedom in 2008.
“It was quite amazing, because I just got apologized by (Florida) Governor Rick Scott.”
“They’re just an inspiration,” said Melissa Shaughnessy, who attended the concert. “They’re usually upbeat and positive about their situation. They could be very bitter. I would be!”
The Innocence Center estimates that there are hundreds of wrongly convicted people in Utah prisons. They plan to use all the funds raised by Sunday night’s concert to help those people get their freedom.