HONOLULU (KHON2) — Albert “Ian” Schweitzer is still adjusting to life on the outside after spending decades behind bars for a crime he did not commit. On Jan. 24, 2023, Judge Peter Kubota vacated Schweitzer’s conviction for the 1991 murder and sexual assault of Dana Ireland.

Thursday, Schweitzer spent time with students at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, sharing his story.

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“I’m just grateful that people showed up and cared and that means a lot,” said Schweitzer.

By his side was Amanda Knox. She made global headlines after being exonerated of murder in the killing of a fellow exchange student in Italy in 2007. Knox spent four years wrongfully convicted in an Italian prison and eight years on trial.

“I think just her hugging me was more than words can explain,” said Schweitzer.

Knox says, the cases are both extraordinary, but at the same time ordinary, because unfortunately she has met many others like Schweitzer. Although both have been exonerated, Knox said, that doesn’t always mean feeling free.

“One of the things that you feel when you’ve been wrongly convicted and accused is that you don’t belong to the rest of humanity anymore,” said Knox. “You’ve been isolated, you’ve been turned into a monster and that feeling persists even in freedom.”

Both Knox and Schweitzer hope sharing their stories, in their own words, will help inspire change for law students and the entire community.

“I wouldn’t wish it on no one. It’s a different road,” said Schweitzer.

“I think that the fact they care enough to hear from people who are directly impacted is incredible because they want to be better people and they want to be better lawyers and they want to try to change the system for the better,” Knox said.

As far as moving forward, Schweitzer said it’s still a day-by-day process and he’s staying optimistic.

“Coming out of prison for the first time in 24 years, I’m still just holding on to being thankful for being out of that prison cell,” Schweitzer said.

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A GoFundMe account has been set up by the Hawaii Innocence Project for Schweitzer. For more information, click here. Schweitzer will be in attendance at the Hawaii Innocence Project fundraiser at Cafe Julia Thursday evening.