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Tyra Patterson speaks out about her complicated case at Wright State

Tyra Patterson speaks out about her complicated case at Wright State (WKEF/WRGT)

FAIRBORN, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Tyra Patterson spent 23 years in prison for a murder she says she didn't commit.

She was paroled on Christmas day 2017, and Fox 45 has been following her case and her fight back against the justice system.

Patterson was 19 when she was convicted for the 1994 murder of Michelle Lai in Dayton.

She has always maintained her innocence, and in recent years, the victim's sister, former jurors, and even other suspects convicted in the crime have come forward to say Trya wasn't involved.

Tuesday night, she shared her captivating story and answered questions about her case for the first time from the public, at Wright State University.

"Learning different thing, I'm like a newborn baby," Patterson told FOX 45's Kelly May.

Patterson was a 6th grade dropout when she went into prison, but she spent her time in lockup bettering herself by earning a GED, an engineering degree, and becoming a certified paralegal.

"Getting to know people... feeling equal," Patterson said, "It's been hard to deal with knowing I still am under the umbrella of the justice system."

The conversation at Wright State was organized by the Applied Behavioral Sciences Master’s Program (ABS) and Bolinga Black Cultural Resources Center in conjunction with Sociology and Anthropology, Crime and Justice Studies, African and African American Studies, Women and Gender Studies and the Women’s Center.

Tyra is now devoting her time to helping other inmates; she has an idea to create a state program of mentors to help other inmates returning to normal life.

"To help our returning citizens and also help stop the recidivism rate and crimes in our community," Tyra said.

Tyra also talked about her own struggles returning to normal life.

"Me as a returning citizen I went into fifth third bank to open up an account," she explained. "They refused me because I didn't have two identification cards. It was really upsetting."

But Patterson, now working with the Ohio Justice and Policy Center who pushed for her parole and is pushing for her clemency, used the experience as her first push for reform.

"Within 48 hours that policy was changed and they reached out to me for an apology," she said.

Patterson and her attorney David Singleton took questions from students, staff, and community members.

She said her overall message, "Just don't give up hope and if you surround yourself with people who will challenge you one day that's going to help."

Patterson's team is still pushing Governor Kasich for clemency.

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