Woman Honors Life of Exonerated Man Despite Difficulties

In the final years of his life, James Woodard spent a lot of time outside.

"He was in prison for almost three decades," said Joyce King, who dated him after he was cleared by DNA evidence. "And when we got him out, the Innocence Project of Texas, in 2008, he just didn't like being cooped up inside. He liked being outside under the stars."

King said they had plans to marry, but she admits their relationship was not perfect and ended badly.

And he was a troubled man.

Once Woodard started getting compensation money from the state, King said he made terrible choices.

"The 4.2 million dollars that he deserved and was awarded was a magnet for trouble," she said.

Woodard used drugs. He wrecked multiple cars -- nearly killing himself more than once.

"And in the end, there were drug charges," King said.  

In August 2012, Woodard was arrested with a gram of cocaine. His attorneys decided not to bail him out as they worked on a plan to get him into rehab and protect his compensation money.

That October, still in jail, Woodard died.

"I got the phone call that James was found dead, had gone into a seizure on the floor of the Dallas County jail," King said. "And that was very devastating to me."

She calls his death "Shakespearean."

King decided Woodard deserved to be remembered as more than just a man who lived and died tragically.

"His story is a hopeful story," King said. "The people that remember James know that I made this promise to him, I'm going to keep working to exonerate more innocent men so they don't suffer what James did."

She wrote a book about Woodard’s brief life and titled it "Exonerated."

She’s also shopping a screenplay.

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