RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Tonight, Thomas Haynesworth was recognized by the Richmond City Council for his fight to clear his name, after spending nearly 30 years in prison for crimes he did not commit.
Last month, Haynesworth was exonerated for a string of rapes in Richmond and Henrico that date back to 1984. He spent 27 years in prison for those crimes.
In the midst of a standing ovation - Thomas Haynesworth proudly clutched onto his award from the Richmond City Council.
"It's an honor," he said. This night - more than 27 years after Haynesworth spent his first day of many, wrongfully behind bars.
"All I've been through, they showed love and support. It made me feel very appreciated," said Haynesworth.
That love and support will likely continue in the coming weeks. Heading into this years legislative session -- State Senator Henry Marsh is proposing a bill that would require the state to pay Haynesworth nearly $800,000 in restitution.
Initially, Haynesworth was reportedly not happy with that amount. But tonight -- he's singing a different tune. "Sometimes you think it's not fair but... you can't put a price tag on the years you lost so I don't worry about that."
State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was also recognized for his instrumental role in allowing Haynesworth to be a free man. He is working with lawmakers to see what else can be done to help Haynesworth.
In the meantime, Haynesworth is already making plans for the money the state "may" pay him. That includes starting with taking care of his mom -- and then even bigger ambitions.
"Travel, see the world, you know what I'm saying. It's a big world out there," he said.
A world he could only dream of seeing --- for nearly 30 years behind bars.