Court of Appeals reverses conviction, Winona man free after 491 days

 A Winona man is out of prison after the Court of Appeals threw out his conviction. 

After spending hundreds of days behind bars for a crime he says he didn't commit, a Winona, Minn. man is out of prison and enjoying his first moments (and first meal) of freedom.

Dominic Sam's first meal after 491 days in prison? He took dessert to go.

Sam's attorney, Reid Golden, came into the picture after the jury verdict and appealed, arguing there just wasn't enough evidence to convict Sam for possession of drugs and a gun. On Monday, the Court of Appeals posted their decision.

"I was just looking for the word "reversed," and when I found that, I jumped for joy out of my seat," he said.

Golden was there to greet Sam when he was released, and send him on his way with his father. Sam will soon reunite with his kids and rest of his family. Golden's day job is commercial litigation at a big law firm called Winthrop and Weinstine, but he spent 175 hours on this case, donating every single one of them. That was time spent away from his paying clients and away from his family all to take a risk on his first ever criminal appeal.

"Yesterday, when I finally found out he was going to get out today, it really made everything worth it. And all that at once it hit me that it was all real. I was going to get him out of prison and he would get another chance and turn this into a positive for his life," he said.

Sam is far from a saint, he has had many a brush with the law, which makes the time Golden took away from his own family to help not a sacrifice, but an investment.

"I don't view today as the end. It's a good day, but I want to continue to help him out," Golden said.


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