NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Charles Tilghman is happy to have his freedom back – but his time behind bars continues to haunt him.
"I seen a lot of stories on TV about people getting locked up for something they didn't do," he said. "I never thought it would hit home."
Tilghman was recently released from jail, after he was found not guilty of shooting a former high school classmate in the head. He was charged with the shooting of Steven Jordan near the 6th Street Bridge in November of 2011.
Tilghman maintained police had the wrong guy when we spoke to him in a jailhouse interview.
"I feel like I was kidnapped for something I didn't do," he said.
Waiting for trial, Tilghman spent 10 months in jail.
Tilghman said while he was locked up, he missed his father's and grandfather's funerals and his son's graduation.
"I missed out being there with my family," he said.
At the trial, the victim, who survived but was seriously injured, testified saying Tilghman was the person who shot him.
"The victim in this case knew the defendant for 18 years," said Assistant District Attorney Dru Lewis. "He indicated that the person who approached him and robbed him that night was the defendant."
Lewis prosecuted the case and said the jury didn't hear the whole story.
Lewis explained that a jailhouse informant who Tilghman reportedly confessed to was deemed to be "not credible" before the trial.
Additionally, an eyewitness disappeared before the trial.
Lewis said it's rare that jurors hear all of the evidence due to these types of things happening.
"Often times a jury doesn't hear all the evidence because we have difficulties finding some witnesses," Lewis said. "It is not uncommon for juries to not hear the entire story."
But Lewis says with this case, they felt like they had enough to put it in front of a jury, even though Tilghman maintained his innocence.
"It is not uncommon for people who are charged with crimes to say they didn't do it," Lewis said. "If we decline to prosecute every single person who said they were innocent, we wouldn't have any crime, we'd have no need for jails or law enforcement."
As for Tilghman, after his time in jail, he's working to get his life back on track.
Prior to his arrest, he told us he was going to school at CFCC to get his GED in an attempt to straighten out his life following convictions of selling or possessing heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
He has a full time job and is considering going back to school.
We tried reaching out to the victim in this case, he has not returned our call.
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