Man freed after almost 40 years in prison reflects on book about his life, what's next

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- He was sentenced to life in prison for a 1962 double murder he insists he did not commit. After spending half of his life behind bars, William Macumber was released from an Arizona prison last year, finally free to live his life.

Macumber shared his story -- his wrongful conviction, his time behind bars and his eventual releases -- to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barry Siegel.

One Monday, Siegel and Macumber sat down with 3TV's Scott Pasmore to talk about the resulting book "Manifest Injustice: The True Story of a Convicted Murderer and the Lawyers Who Fought for His Freedom."

Macumber said from the day he was arrested that he was innocent, and never once changed his story.

Siegel said there were several things that intrigued him about Macumber and his time in prison.

"He became kind of a folk hero in prison," he said. "I also was fascinated by the dedication of the Arizona Justice Project, which took on Bill Macumber's case about 12 years ago. They have very limited resources; they have to pick their shots."

Siegel watched the Arizona Justice Project as the fought for Macumber's freedom.

Macumber, who now lives out of state, says he's content to leave the past in the past.

"I've put it from my mind," he said. "I've got too many other things to do."

Macumber, 77, says he now has four goals.

  1. Get the Legislature to review the "Old Code Lifers," the 25 who are still alive ("Old Code Lifers" were sentenced between 1912 and mid-1973)
  2. Look at the aging in prison
  3. See the establishment an oversight committee for prisons
  4. See Arizona elect a lieutenant governor so that the secretary of state is not second in line to the state's top political position

Macumber and Siegel will be speaking this afternoon at 4:15 at O'Connor College of Law on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe.