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Man who spent 47 years in prison for murder he did not commit puts on art show in Ferndale gallery

Posted at 11:25 PM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-20 19:01:39-05

FERNDALE, Mich. (WXYZ) — What would you do if you were locked in prison for 47 years for a crime you did not commit? One man spent his time locked away making beautiful art.

7 Action News cameras were there just over a year ago when Richard Phillips walked out of prison a free man.

“I wish you nothing but the best in the future,” said the judge as the charges against him were dropped.

He spent 47 years imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. Every day he dreamed of freedom. Now he has freedom, but it is far from easy.

“I am still living in poverty,” said Phillips.

“You are 72-years-old. You spent all your working years in prison. You have nothing,” said Gabi Silver, his defense attorney.

While Silver is fighting the state for compensation for the 47 years of his life lost, he’s received nothing. When he accepted about five thousand dollars in donations to a account the state cut off his welfare benefits.

“I feel like I am being taken advantage of by the state. You convict me of a crime, now you won’t even help me out,” said Phillips.

So he is turning to the thing that helped him survive in prison to survive now.

“A lot of emotion was going into these paintings when I was putting them together,” said Phillips as he flipped through watercolor paintings he created to escape.

His work will be on display at the Community Arts at Level One Gallery at 22635 Woodward Avenue in Ferndale starting on Friday, January 18.

He says he hopes everyone who comes to see his work walks away inspired.

“Enjoy life and make the best of your life, because you are never going to get a chance to come back and dance after the party is over. Do it now.”