Damon Thibodeaux spent more than a decade behind bars for a crime that he didn't commit. After escaping death row in 2012, he died following COVID-19 complications earlier this month.

The New Orleans native was 47 years old when he died, reported New York Daily News.

Steve Kaplan, a retired Minneapolis attorney who helped free Damon after he spent 16 years in prison, 15 of them on death row in Louisiana, said that it’s unfair, and he is "struggling to make peace with it, but you can't."

Damon, who became a long-haul trucker after restarting his life and settling with his family in Texas, passed away on Sept. 2, reported Star Tribune. In early August, he was on the road when he ended up in a Jacksonville hospital due to COVID-19, just a few days after getting his first dose of a vaccine against the virus.

He was expecting to be released after being in and out of intensive care for about three weeks. On the evening of Sept. 2, he told his brother David Thibodeaux that he was ready to go home. But just a few hours after talking to Damon, a nurse called up David asking if they could stop resuscitation efforts on his brother. Damon's lungs had collapsed and his heart had stopped beating, David was told.

David's heart sank, and he found it difficult to let his brother go. The Marine who served in Afghanistan knew that it was unlikely his brother's heart could be restarted after trying for 45 minutes, so he told the nurse on the phone to "go ahead and stop."

The brothers endured abuse from their mother's former husband while growing up. Damon was sexually assaulted by him and later by a neighbor, a relative and then his granddad.

In July 1996, Damon was 22 years old when his teen step-cousin went missing while he was at her family's house. After her body was found, he went through a grueling interrogation that made him confess to a crime he didn't do. A year later, he was sentenced to death.

More than a decade later, a team of lawyers noted his confession didn't go with the physical evidence, DNA tests showed no connection between the murder and Damon, and witness statements were inconsistent. He was finally set free in September 2012 after his innocence was proved.

He died without being monetarily compensated for getting wrongly convicted. Fredrikson law firm president John Koneck said that life had knocked him down several times.

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