For Kareem Lane, the quantitative difference between freedom and imprisonment was $720,000.
With his bond lowered Thursday from $750,000 to $30,000, the 37-year-old Shaw High School graduate accused of killing then-School Superintendent Jim Burns in 1992 finally gained his freedom from the Muscogee County Jail, where he has been held since waiving extradition from Pell City, Ala., on May 4, 2010.
With reporters and photographers trailing behind him, Lane walked out of the jail at 7:45 p.m., just after sunset.
A jury Wednesday deadlocked on the murder case against him, leading Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters to declare a mistrial. Ten of the 12 jurors wanted to find Lane not guilty.
Anticipating a chance to hug her husband for the first time since his arrest, Carol Lane was buoyant earlier today as she spoke to reporters on the Government Center’s ninth floor, where his trial had ended inconclusively the day before. Prosecutors could elect to try Lane again, but have declined comment.
Lane’s family would have preferred he was acquitted, but, “at this point, we’ll take him however we can get him,” she said. “It’s been almost 2½ years, so we’re just ready. We’re excited.”
The first thing she wanted to do was end her abstention.
“At the beginning of this year, I stopped eating meat, to fast and support my husband through what he’s going through,” she said. “And so I told him the first thing I want is a hot wing. It may sound kind of crazy, but that will be me breaking my fast. And he wants some ribs.”
Other wistful desires will have to wait, such as the desire to recapture the life they had before the police picked up Kareem Lane in Pell City, back when he and his wife were two years younger.
She wasn’t sure where they would go from here, she said. She has kept working while he was in jail, having moved in with a coworker after giving up the couple’s rented trailer and giving away all their furniture. She hopes he can regain the job he had with an auto-parts manufacturer, but isn’t sure they would want to move back to Pell City, after all that they endured there after his arrest.
“Basically we will have to rebuild everything, and just find a new place to live, but I’m sure with all the supporters that we have, friends and family, the transition won’t take very long,” she said.
Home will be wherever they are together, she said: “Really to me, as long as we’re together, I don’t really have a specific place in mind.”