Man serving life sentence for $30 of marijuana to be freed in La.

Published: Aug. 9, 2020 at 7:57 PM EDT
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ABBEVILLE, La. (KATC/CNN) - A military veteran who has been serving life in prison over a $30 marijuana sale is set to walk free.

Prosecutors in Louisiana agreed earlier this week to release Derek Harris, who has served nine years in prison.

"We've held onto the faith that, you know, someday that things would be right," said Antoine Harris, his brother.

It's been almost a decade since Antoine Harris has seen his little brother.

In 2012 Derek Harris was sentenced to life in state prison without parole over the 2008 marijuana sale. CNN reported he was initially sentenced to 15 years but resentenced in 2012 under the Habitual Offender Law.

Antoine Harris doesn't deny his brother's wrongdoing, but he believes he didn't have a fair sentencing.

"His attorney at the time was just silent, never once appealed it or said I don't agree with it or anything," he said. "He was virtually just quiet, so his counsel was ineffective. And the Supreme Court ruled that that he did have ineffective counsel."

The Louisiana Supreme Court granted him a new hearing last month, and his legal team argued that his first attorney failed him by not challenging the sentence.

Upon Derek Harris' release, he'll be moving to Kentucky with his brother.

It's a moment Antoine Harris never lost hope in.

"He's still a little bit...all shocked about all of this, because we've been working at this for a long time trying to obtain his freedom and now finally it's here, so it's a bit overwhelming for him as well as us," he said.

Derek Harris remains in Angola State Prison. His release date is pending.

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