Wrongfully convicted man spends 21 years in prison, dies 11 months after being exonerated

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THE BRONX (PIX11) -- The life of 38-year-old Sharrif Wilson was tragic on so many levels.

The Harlem resident spent more than 20 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit only to die less than a year after becoming a free man.

"They took him away and then we just got him back," Fatima Wilson, Sharrif's sister, told PIX11, fighting back tears.

Sharrif's mother lost her son twice.

"First they took him away when he was 15," Gloria Wilson, Sharrif's mother said. "Now he is gone forever."

In the 11 months since DNA evidence freed him, Wilson was hospitalized five times with breathing problems and other health issues that his lawyer says started when he was wrongfully imprisoned.

"He went into prison a healthy 15 year old and he came out broken, bloated and morbidly obese," Adam Perlmutter, Shariff's lawyer said.

Wilson spent two decades behind bars with Antonio Yarbough for the murders of Yarbough's mother and two children. Wilson confessed to police but later recanted, saying police had coerced him.

Family members said upon his release he wanted to help start programs for others wrongfully convicted men who were then freed.

"That's the kind of person he was," Tiffany Wilson, another sister said. "He always wanted to give back and I want to continue his legacy."

And while the family is busy making funeral arrangement his lawyer says the system needs to change.

In another tragic case, wrongfully convicted William Lopez died from an asthma attack last year after being exonerated in 2013.