#HassanBennett’s story is a reminder to never stop fighting for what is right, especially when your own personal freedom and justice is on the line. He never switched up and fought to tell his truth.
You see, it took the Philly native 13 years and four trials to prove his innocence after being accused of orchestrating the murder of a friend over a $20 dice game back in September 2006. The two witnesses who said Bennett was the shooter later recanted their statements, saying that detectives made them lie.
Representing himself in his actual jail uniform without the help of any attorneys, with a mandatory life sentence on the line, 36-year-old Bennett achieved an exceedingly rare victory, @washingtonpost reports. With no law degree, Bennett was acquitted of murder after the jury deliberated for 81 minutes.
“I was sitting in the holding cell thinking, after five minutes, what’s taking so long?” Bennett said. “When the jury came in and they called me up, I already knew it was a not-guilty verdict.”
His confidence stemmed from more than 12 years of preparation inside a Pennsylvania prison, where he studied case law in the library by day. He spent his nights meticulously drafting legal briefs in his cell, using a flickering TV as his light source.
Bennett maintained his innocence from the jump, telling police he was on the phone with a friend at home when he heard the shots ring out, then ran to the scene to see what happened.
He said his original lawyer failed to introduce the phone records or call the witnesses that he believes would have supported his alibi, saving him years in prison.
He represented himself in his last two trials, even though he was strongly cautioned not to.
“They told me, if you mess up here, your tail is done,” Bennett said. “Well, I’m not gonna mess up then. There is no room for error. This is the time you rely on yourself. They call it crunchtime in basketball, when the best player in the game gets the ball with five seconds left and it’s his last shot. He wins or loses on this shot. That’s how I felt.”
Bennett said the first thing he did when he was freed was go home and have a home-cooked meal with his family. He’s spent his time this week re-acclimating to life on the outside and plans to get back to work.
His story is very inspirational and we look forward to seeing what success Bennett will achieve in the future!