Shadrell Matthews spent his first full day of freedom cutting his grandmother’s grass in the Alabama heat with a huge smile on his face. After being relieved of a misplaced murder charge, he said he’ll no longer take even chores like that for granted.

Matthews, now 41, was charged with three counts of capital murder, accused by convicted killer Alexius Foster of helping him murder his uncle, George Foster, in 2013. After four years of incarceration, he is able to walk  free today, thanks to new evidence that cleared his name.

“She said, ‘You need to come on home and take care of my yard. It’s been missing you,’” he said. “And by the grace of God, here we are.”

While on trial in 2015, Alexius Foster claimed Matthews helped him kill George Foster by stabbing him 62 times. Foster was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, and Matthews was set to go on trial Monday, until his defense team at Turner Law Group discovered photos they say disprove the state’s cases against Matthews.

“We went through hundreds and hundreds of hours of cell phone records, which is ultimately where we found the pictures,” Laura Segers Fikes of Turner Law Group said.

Prosecution witnesses were going to testify they saw stab wounds on Matthews’ arm and leg just days after George Foster’s murder. Defense Attorney Mary Turner said one helpful photo was taken two days after George Foster’s murder and shows no wound on Matthews’ arm.

Turner’s team said the wound on Matthews’ leg was looked at by a doctor who gave an expert opinion that the wound was much older than six days old, since it already showed signs of scar tissue.

“The cut was ultimately the thing that got Shadrell arrested, and what exonerated him as well,” Fikes said.

After presenting the evidence to the prosecution, the cases were dismissed and Matthews was released.

“Well, the evidence has been there since day one and yeah, I had ill will, anybody would,” Matthews said. “I was so upset. I was mad, but like now, even before the end of it. Hey man, it’s spilt milk. There’s no need to look back.”

Matthews said he feels like he is getting a second chance at life. Specifically, he is ready to enjoy the freedoms he missed the most over the past four years.

“Just looking around,” Matthews said. “Going to the bathroom when I want to, going to the refrigerator, going out whenever I see fit.”

Matthews spoke about the moment he surprised his grandmother after his release.

“I was crying, she was crying, but it was a really great moment,” he said.

Matthews has claimed innocence since day one, and said he won’t harbor ill will about the circumstances that took away his freedom for over 1,000 days.

“Exciting, yeah it’s exciting,” Matthews said. “It’s all new again, but it’s well appreciated. First things first, I’m going to try to get a job. I’m going to take it one day at a time.”

WVUA 23 News reached out to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, who dropped the cases against Matthews, but did not hear back.

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