After two decades of waiting, justice was served for Wayne Burgess.
The Giles County courtroom was packed with the families and attorneys, there was a sense of relief and triumph. In 1999, Burgess was convicted for the 1997 murder of his then girlfriend's 16-month-old daughter, Nakevia Rivers.
Court documents revealed that Burgess had given a statement confessing to hitting the victim in the stomach, causing deadly internal bleeding. However, his attorneys quickly claimed that the confession was coerced.
The medical examiner at the time, Dr. Charles Harlen, testified that the victim's death occurred shortly after the injury. However, recent findings from expert witnesses, including the state's current medical examiner, challenged Dr. Harlan's conclusions.
A judge thought otherwise and vacated Burgess' sentence a month ago.
The emotional reunion between Burgess and his loved ones, including his now 30-year-old son, was a moment long-awaited.
However, Burgess's battle for justice is not over. While his conviction has been thrown out, prosecutors still have the option to retry him. The case remains open, and in 60 days, the state will return to court with its decision.