George Rodriguez spent more than 17 years behind bars for a rape and kidnapping that he didn't commit. For the first time city officials offered Rodriguez a formal apology for his wrongful conviction. Mayor Annise Parker turned to Rodriguez to say that the city's sorry.
"I want to formally apologize to you for all that you had to endure, as an inmate, as a prisoner in the system."
It was an emotional press conference. Rodriguez stood behind the podium with members of his family—some who's heads were bowed, others with tears in their eyes. After some reluctance Rodriguez spoke and accepted the apology, with long pauses between his words.
"Just like the mayor said, I just want to get on with my life — and go on and live it, and try to do what I can for my family and everything. But it's kind of hard, because, really, I've been through a whole lot, you know. Seventeen years, my family, but I'll get over it."
Rodriguez was freed in 2004. For six years, the city and Rodriguez have been involved in litigation. Parker apologized for the unjust conviction, but not for the time that it took to reach a settlement.
Alex Kaplan is one of the lawyers that's been representing Rodriguez. Kaplan said both parties believed the settlement was the right thing to do.
"As we said the debt that George paid to society can't be repaid. He paid someone else's debt to society, but it's some small measure of compensation for him, and for that we're obviously happy."
In addition to the money Rodriguez will receive from the city, he is eligible for compensation from the state, for the time that he served in prison He became eligible for that money last year when exonerated, when Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos declared him "actually innocent."