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PENNSYLVANIA Freed death row inmate leaving the United States



Published: Wed, January 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The man is suing Delaware County, Pa., officials for $22 million.

MEDIA, Pa. (AP) -- Nicholas Yarris, who was freed from death row a year ago after a DNA test exonerated him of a 1981 rape and murder, said he is leaving the country because of what is popularly known as the "three-strikes law."

Although Yarris' conviction that sent him to death row was vacated, he still has a criminal record because he escaped from death row for 25 days in 1985 and committed crimes in Florida while on the lam.

"Because of those convictions, if I'm arrested for stealing a slice of pizza, they have the right to take the rest of my life from me -- so I'm moving to England," said Yarris, who went on a speaking tour of Europe last year sponsored by death penalty abolitionists.

Yarris, 43, said the move is far from the only big change in his life.

"I'm getting married," Yarris said. "Her name is Karen Karbritz, and I'm getting married in May."

Authorities accused

Yarris, who had gotten married and divorced while in prison, spoke while protesting Monday outside the Delaware County Courthouse.

In his protest, Yarris alleged that county prosecutors did not really want to solve the crime for which he was convicted and later exonerated, saying they have unnecessarily delayed turning over DNA evidence to the FBI. The district attorney's office disputed that claim.

Yarris also spoke about a federal civil rights lawsuit he filed against Delaware County authorities seeking $22 million as compensation for the time he wrongfully spent on death row.

"I've instructed my lawyers we're going to be extremely fair and honest, because they didn't offer that same honesty in my prosecution," Yarris said.




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