A Pennsylvania man whose case is featured in an upcoming Kim Kardashian West documentary was released Tuesday morning.
Family members and friends met David Sheppard as he was released from the state correctional facility called SCI Phoenix.
“It’s like a new start on life.” Sheppard told Oxygen.com shortly after his release.
Sheppard was convicted of second-degree felony murder for the 1992 shooting death of pharmacy owner Thomas Brannan. He was not the shooter, but faced a life sentence. The state’s board of pardons unanimously approved his application for clemency and Governor Tom Wolf signed off on his commutation last week.
Sheppard said he had his belongings packed in anticipation of being released Friday before learning a retail theft charge from 1992 would hinder him from leaving custody.
“The weekend was sleepless cause I got no sleep after that,” Sheppard said. “I might get some sleep today.”
The Delaware County D.A.’s office moved to rescind the warrant for the retail theft charge paving the way for his Tuesday release. After the hearing, daughters of Brannan, the victim in the felony case, told reporters they were only notified about Sheppard’s commutation by the Delaware County D.A.’s office and called for reform for victim notification.
A hearing was scheduled for January 2020 to further address the retail theft case.
“At one point the reality of going home actually kicked in, but every time you try to think it’s time to go then there’s another hurdle,” Sheppard said. “But I had to keep in mind that it was just a setback to get to where I need to really be.”
In prison, Sheppard said he pursued some education classes for a business degree while grants were available. He also helped with a hospice program in prison, often “sitting at the bedside of men who are passing away."
Sheppard said he was motivated to doing positive things while in prison because he felt obligated to try to make his family proud and thought of Brannan’s family.
“Although I didn’t actually cause the loss of life of the individual, I still feel the need to give back,” Sheppard said.
For the next year, Sheppard will have to live in a community corrections center, known as a halfway house, in Philadelphia.
Sheppard’s case was brought to Kardashian West’s attention in part by Sheppard’s friend George Trudel, who also had his life sentence commuted earlier this year; Trudel wrote Kardashian West a letter about Sheppard’s case. Trudel and Liz Geyer, both advocates for Sheppard’s release, joined family members like Sheppard’s sons, his brother Ron Sheppard, and his sister-in-law Debbie Sheppard outside of the prison. As they were reunited, one of Sheppard’s sons Devin Sheppard, wore a necklace saying "Free Wavy,” referring to a nickname for the father of six. He later gave the necklace to his father to wear.
Kardashian West met with Trudel, Geyer, and Lt. Governor John Fetterman this past summer to talk about Sheppard’s story. She also tweeted in support of his release after he was held in custody because of the retail theft charge.
Sheppard said Kardashian West helped shed a light on his case.
“She’s been a great blessing to me and my family,” Sheppard said.
His case is currently set to be featured in “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project.”
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