PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gerald Ford was the president. Pete Flaherty was mayor of Pittsburgh. The city and region’s steel mills were still humming.
That’s how it was the last time Charles Goldblum, a once-promising attorney and accountant from Greenfield, walked the streets of his hometown as a free man.READ MORE: Major Outage Hits Amazon Web Services, Affecting Many Sites
Today, he walks those streets again, 45 years older and recently freed from prison despite having been sentenced to life. But while free, he is still, in the eyes of the law, a killer.
Goldblum says he working on that.
“I don’t like being labeled a murderer,” he said.
In February 1976, George Wilhelm was viciously stabbed in a car in a Downtown Pittsburgh parking garage. Goldblum admits he was in the backseat. But he insists he merely witnessed a killing in the front seat.
“I’m ashamed of myself,” said Goldblum. “I ran away when I saw the blood. I ran away.”
In the years following his conviction, Goldblum began mounting appeals that gained some surprising support.
It was unusual that both the judge and prosecutor from Goldblum’s trial had gone public with misgivings about his guilt. And to some, it had always been curious that the dying victim, with his final breaths to the police officer who found him, named a different killer: Clarence Miller, the man who had been in the passenger seat.
And yet, Goldblum would grow old in prison, until one night this past winter when he learned Governor Tom Wolf commuted his life sentence.
“I had to put my head down between my legs. I thought I was going to faint,” said Goldblum.Port Authority Holds Public Meetings On Mon Valley Transit Upgrades
The next morning, Goldblum said he presented his wrists for handcuffing as a prison guard was about to drive him to a halfway house in Pittsburgh. He says the guard told him to put his hands down and said, “Goldy, you’re free.”
“Then it started to hit me,” said Goldblum.
So why is Goldblum free?
“Because the Board of Pardons agreed that given the totality of his case. We believed that mercy was an appropriate step and we forwarded it to the governor. And then ultimately, he decided that as well,” said Lt. Governor John Fetterman.
Goldblum’s not alone. Fetterman says under his leadership, the Board of Pardons has recommended more pardons and commutations than any administration in state history.
In Goldblum’s case and others, Fetterman says it’s about mercy and a belief in second chances.
“Forty-five years in prison is not getting away with murder,” said Fetterman.
At age 72, Goldblum said he’d like to find a job. He says his lawyers continue to try to clear his name and win him something more than mere freedom.
“Vindication, to almost anybody that’s been convicted of something they’re not guilty of, is important.”
Goldblum has nine more months to serve in a halfway house before he’s released on parole for the rest of his life.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Reports 849 New Cases
The family of Wilhelm had long opposed a commutation for Goldblum. They declined KDKA’s invitation to comment on this report.