Freed after 18 years of wrongful imprisonment

Freed after 18 years of wrongful imprisonment, Fernando Bermudez still haunted by nightmares
Thursday, February 24th 2011, 4:00 AM
Hagen for News
Fernando Bermudez, who was released in 2009 after serving 18 years for a murder he did not commit, says he still has nightmares.
An innocent man who spent 18 years in prison for a murder he did not commit says he still wakes up in the middle of the night gripped by fear he is back behind bars.
Fernando Bermudez, 42, has been free for 15 months since a judge overturned his 1992 conviction, but adjusting to life on the outside is a daily struggle.
“It has been very difficult,” said Bermudez, who filed a $30 million lawsuit against the City and the State of New York this week.
“I’m still experiencing anxiety and waking up at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning with a beating heart in which I still feel like I’m in prison.
“[I feel] like I’m under watch still,” he added.
Bermudez was implicated in the 1991 killing of Raymond Blount, who was shot to death following a fight in a Manhattan nightclub.
His attorneys say detectives and prosecutors at the district attorney’s office coerced witnesses, failed to investigate obvious leads and ultimately forced Bermudez to spend 18 years of his life incarcerated while the real killer roamed free.
“It’s been a long, bitter struggle in which, at times, I lost hope and even questioned my own existence,” Bermudez said.
“What kept me going was essentially that I knew that I was innocent … [and] the love of my family.”
Bermudez has been rebuilding his life with the help of his wife, three kids and parents and is completing a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science.
He also speaks to students at schools and colleges about his experience.
“[I’m] trying to prevent another miscarriage of justice,” he said.
“That’s my objective in life – to prevent what happened to me from happening to someone else.”
The Manhattan DA’s office declined to comment, and the city Law Department said it had not yet received the lawsuit but would review it thoroughly.

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