Charges dropped for Jimmie Gardner, free man talks future - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Charges dropped for Jimmie Gardner, free man talks future

All charges are dropped for Jimmie Gardner. (Source: WALB) All charges are dropped for Jimmie Gardner. (Source: WALB)
Gardner was practicing with the Chicago Cubs' farm team when he was put behind bars. (Source: WALB) Gardner was practicing with the Chicago Cubs' farm team when he was put behind bars. (Source: WALB)
Gardner said he loved football and hopes he can coach one day. (Source: WALB) Gardner said he loved football and hopes he can coach one day. (Source: WALB)
Jimmie Gardner is now home with his mom in Albany. (Source: WALB) Jimmie Gardner is now home with his mom in Albany. (Source: WALB)
Gardner spent 27 years behind bars. (Source: WALB) Gardner spent 27 years behind bars. (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

After spending a quarter century behind bars for a violent crime he says he didn't commit and fighting what seemed like endless legal battles, a south Georgia native is back home.

Jimmie Gardner recently found out prosecutors in West Virginia won't retry him.

"Justice comes. It might come slow, but justice came for me," said Jimmie Gardner, now a free man. 

Gardner was playing for a farm team for the Chicago Cubs in West Virginia in 1987 when he was convicted of sexual assault, robbery and burglarly.

"These charges have been false from day one," said Gardner. "These charges have been trumped on me since day one and I went out and continued to fight and never gave up."

After 27 years in prison, Gardner was released on June 1, 2016 after a judge overturned his conviction.

He said he practically moved into his lawyer's office in West Virginia, determined to work until the charges were dropped. 

"We were standing there and we were literally frozen for a second. They dismissed all charges right there, that day," explained Gardner.

Gardner was prepared for a retrial this month when he got the surprising news. 

"That was an overwhelming feeling and I had to come outside and call my mother. That was the first person that I called was my mom," he said. 

That call was answered here in Albany.

Today, Jimmie is back by his mother's side replaying the last 27 years.

"I didn't stop living when I was inside," said Jimmie. "Everyday was a good day for me."

Now 50 years old, he says he wants to make a difference. 

"I'm humble to go through that experience and be in a position to maybe talk for guys that can't talk because there are so many guys I left behind me. So many in worse situations than me," said Gardner. 

Gardner said he wants to help those men find justice and motivate them to keep fighting.

His budding baseball career, is a distant memory, but he has dreams of coaching a different sport, football. 

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