VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A man convicted of a violent Virginia Beach rape of a 10-year-old girl has been granted parole.
46-year-old Darnell Phillips was arrested for the crime in 1990, but he has always said police got the wrong guy.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for 27 years,” said Phillips.
Tuesday was the first time since his arrest that Phillips had a taste of freedom.
“I’m basking in this moment, because it is something that I dreamed about and now it’s finally here,” Phillips added.
Phillips was sentenced to 27 years for the violent sexually assault. He was only 17 at time.
The young girl was punched repeatedly, raped and left for dead in the Timberlake area.
“An innocent man shouldn’t have parole on him,” he said. “No man wants someone to always follow up on him or controlling where he goes or what he can or can not be.”
During his trial, prosecutors leaned on a confession to police he said he never made. There was no video, no audio, no notes or a signed affidavit of the confession. The victim recently told 10 On Your Side she believes police arrested the wrong guy.
“Starting out as a man, now 46 about to be 47, I wanted to be established already,” Phillips said. “I wanted to have a family. I wanted to give my mother grandkids. I wanted to have a wife and a business.”
Most of the time behind bars was spent in Greensville Correctional Center. Phillips spent most of his time as minister to other inmates. He is out of prison and he believes that is only the first step.
“All I want is my freedom,” Phillips said. “I want to be a man to walk the streets free, going where I want to go. I want to live my live and build a family and the only way to do that for me is to be pardoned.”
Phillips has petitions into the Virginia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to overturn his conviction.
Before his parole, Phillips was sentenced to serve 100 years and a day behind bars.