Michael Hanline, a California man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 36 years for a murder he didn’t commit, finally got out of prison. It’s easy to imagine that his first bite of tasty food in the real world in almost four decades would be a sight to behold — and with cameras rolling during that exact moment, it certainly was (video below).
In 1978, Hanline was sentenced to life without parole for first-degree murder after a biker named J.T. McGarry was found dead following his disappearance in Ventura, California.
It was later discovered through DNA evidence withheld at the time of the original investigation that Hanline was not involved in McGarry’s murder, and that defense attorney Bruce Robertson — in an effort to steer investigators away from his clients — had deliberately implicated him.
After 36 years and countless hours of effort from the California Innocence Project, Hanline was set free in November 2014.
“It doesn’t seem actually real yet,” Hanline said as he was driven from the prison grounds just minutes after walking out the door and into the world. His first stop as a free man was to a Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant, where he decided to indulge in what he called “the burger in the commercials.”
Hanline was given a Mile High Bacon Cheeseburger combo, and was seemingly not disappointed.
“That’s what meat tastes like, huh?” he joked. “The commercial does it justice.”
Watch Hanline take his first bite of freedom below.