Exonerated woman Debra Brown talks about freedom, frustration with AG's office

Published: Wednesday, June 1 2011 10:00 p.m. MDT

Other mornings she'll watch TV and crochet while she pedals on the exercise bike. She is much more health conscious now, she says, because she's going to live to be 150 years old so she can make up for lost time.

She's also working to make sense of the technology that blossomed while she was behind bars.

She's learning how to answer a cell phone and use a self-checkout line at the grocery store, but is still too overwhelmed by the Internet to do much online yet.

"I feel like an adult infant," she says. "The world I left changed a lot."

She talks incredulously about a recent trip she took with her daughter.

"We didn't know where the DMV was," she said. "So my daughter asks the car, 'Hey, where's the DMV?' At first I thought she was punking me. But it was for real. The car told us how to get there."

Though Brown radiates optimism and peace as she talks, the AG's decision to appeal represents a "big, black cloud" over her and her family, stalling much of her forward progress.

As she walked out of prison that rainy Monday in early May, she bubbled with excitement about being baptized into the LDS church. She even had a date: July 9.

But with her conviction still in limbo, she must wait. She does, however, attend church, pay tithing and take the sacrament, for which she is extremely grateful.

"In Heavenly Father's eyes, I'm already a member," she says. "It's between me and him."

As she talks, she touches a small gold charm on her necklace. It's the Angel Moroni, she explains, a larger replica of which is found on the tops of most LDS temples — another place she's longing to go once everything is settled.

Her interest in the Mormon faith began in prison, when a roommate invited her to join her in prayers, then scripture study. And when she began attending institute — the max at 35 hours a week — it wasn't too long before she wanted more.

It's that faith that has sustained her through the numbing pain of incarceration, the heartbreak of missing nearly two decades of family events, and now the emotional roller coaster of an unsure future.

"We're going to do the only thing we can," Brown says with a sad smile. "We're going to just continue to push forward and be the family that we ain't been able to be. I'm stubborn. Way stubborn. I'm not willing to give anybody one more minute of time that's been robbed."

email: sisraelsen@desnews.com

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