(WSVN) – He was just a young teen when he was sentenced to life in prison. Now — 41 years later — he is getting a second chance at life. And is sharing his story with 7 Investigates’ Karen Hensel.
It was 1982… Stevie Wonder topped the charts. Americans tuned in to the hit TV show “Dallas.” Ronald Reagan was president, and Anthony Quinn Davis was a 15-year-old boy just sentenced as an adult to life in prison.
Now 55, this is the moment, last week, he walked out a free man.
First on his list was a jump in a hotel pool and a big breakfast. We met with him on his first full day of freedom.
Karen Hensel: “Nice to meet you. How is your first day?”
Anthony Davis: “Woo, it’s amazing.”
Davis spent 41 years behind bars for armed robberies in South Florida.
The headlines then read, “14-year-old suspected of crime spree” and “No deals vowed for ‘Swamp Willie,’” his nickname back then.
Anthony Davis: “I’m not saying I’m no angel. I did wrong, OK? But I ain’t do nothing to kill anybody. I’ve just made mistakes. I was a kid.”
Literally a kid sent to “Florida state prison” that also housed death row inmates.
Anthony Davis: “It was tough, real tough because I had to be my own mom and daddy, was nobody around. No other kids was around me. I’m around adults, rapists, robbers.”
Then in 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled life sentences without parole were unconstitutional for juveniles who did not commit homicides.
Anthony was eligible for release.
Anthony Davis: “I made it. I like the man I am today. I’m an honest man. I’m a good man, you know.”
As one of 12 children, he is making up for lost time, stopping on his way home from prison to ride the monorail at Disney World…
Anthony Davis: “We went to Disney World, yes, we did.”
… Riding a bike again and learning about technology like smartphones …
Anthony Davis: “I don’t know how to turn it on.”
… And touchless bathroom faucets.
Anthony Davis: “It ain’t doing nothing, they say try the other one, and I did that, and it come on, like ‘whoa.’”
… And something most of us take for granted…
Anthony Davis: “I’m gonna keep this bed. Ohhh, my pillow is so soft.”
While in prison, he taught himself to read and write.
Anthony also lost both his parents, marking his biggest regret.
Anthony Davis: “My mom wasn’t there to see me walk away. My mom wasn’t there to see me walk away.”
But he believes he has yet another road of his own to walk.
Anthony Davis: “Did wrong things, end up in the wrong place, you know? And regretting it all my life. I walked the path that God set for me.”
He wants to start a new path to mentor troubled teens.
Anthony Davis: “I’m going to really get in their face, and I’m going to let them know this was going on for real. I don’t want them to turn out to be like I did.”
But for now he is staying with family, just trying to adjust.
Anthony Davis: “Everytime I go outside, I can’t get enough. I’m gonna get me a chair and just sit out there. I can’t wait to catch it at night because I ain’t seen the stars yet.”
Once a teenager, now a man finding the simple pleasures in life.
Anthony Davis: “My face hurts, because I can’t stop smiling. I can’t stop smiling, man. It feels so wonderful.”
Sister: “It is so good to have you home. If momma could see you now.”
Anthony Davis plans to get his very first driver’s license and by day two of freedom he was already working part-time trimming trees while he looked for full-time work. This time around he is determined to get it right.
Karen Hensel, 7News.
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