Peekskill man turns wrongful conviction into protecting the innocent

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PEEKSKILL -

A Peekskill native who spent years behind bars for a murder he didn't commit is now helping others in the same position.

Jeffrey Deskovic was locked up for 16 years for a murder and rape he did not commit.

According to records from the Westchester District Attorney's Office, he was wrongfully convicted after a coerced false confession and rejected appeals for DNA evidence testing.

Deskovic was 17 years old, tried as an adult, and remained in prison until 2006 when DNA evidence proved who the real killer was.

"I had never lived alone before, I never paid bills, I didn't have a driver’s license, I didn't know how to balance a checkbook, I didn't know how to go shopping at the grocery store,” he says.

Deskovic learned all of this in his 30s, but says he's knows he's not alone.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 275 people have been exonerated in New York state since 1989.

It has inspired him to earn his bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice, and to create the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation with hopes of protecting the innocent from ever being put behind bars.

"I'm looking forward to using the degree to free more people, but this time as the attorney and to help them get compensated afterwards and use the degree to further my policy work,” he says.

Deskovic hopes to transition into politics and protect people from ever going through what he did.

Since he missed out on a large portion of his early adult years, he says he is still building his career and hopes to one day found someone he can spend the rest of his life with.

Jeffrey Deskovic will be graduating from the Elizabeth Hobbs School of Law at Pace University Monday.

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