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Home for the holidays
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Maggie Hill with her son Nathan Dwight

Maggie Hill stood waiting outside the doors of the DeKalb County jail for a moment she’s been waiting for 814 days.

Legally blind, she was hoping to feel the presence of her son Nathan Dwight, released after his life sentence was overturned.

Dwight, however had other ideas. Released just before his mother arrived, the 23-year old came up behind her and told her he was out very simply.

“Hello beautiful,” said Dwight in his first words to his mother as a free man, before giving her a hug worth 800 days.

“That was a moment that I waited over two years for,” Hill said. “Because it was a moment I thought wouldn’t happen.

“A life sentence could destroy a mother’s heart.”

Hill’s heart was tested on Aug. 27, 2009 When Dwight was found guilty for armed robbery, and given a sentence of life in prison. She held up while her daughter was driving her home, but once she entered the threshold of her house, it was time to break down.

“We got here and I couldn’t even unlock the door I was so messed up,” Hill said. “I just fell on the floor and had to cry. I just laid there until I got the initial hurt out.”

Recently Rockdale Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation granted a retrial, and the state dropped its case against Dwight. Last week a DeKalb County Superior Court judge issued a $25,000 on a related car-jacking charge, ending the toughest time in both mother, and son’s lives.

“Coming home is one thing but being able to come home right at Thanksgiving is just great,” Dwight said.

There will be plenty to give thanks for at Dwight’s table this year and, along with his mom’s collard greens, faith and his family will be the main topics of his pre-meal grace.

“Without my family I probably wouldn’t have made it,” Dwight said. “I can’t thank anybody enough. Mike (Minkoff, who helped in many ways with Dwight’s cause) always says, ‘It’s not about who gets the credit, as long as the goal is achieved.’”

Now that he is out, Dwight is working toward his next goal, becoming a barber. He’s always cut his own hair, and his friends, and he even did so in prison. But before cosmetology school, he is enjoying being home, and the chats he has with his mother.

It was over 800 days, but the time was spent not only waiting for his mother’s Thanksgiving meal, but also growing up.

“He’s matured more,” Hill said. “I think he is learning how to appreciate people who love him and truly care for him.”

“Its change me a lot,” Dwight added. “I’m definitely a better person than I was before I went in there.”