Dominique Adams still has nightmares about the 10 months of fright and uncertainty she spent in the Philippines.
"Nightmares and daymares that still send a chill up my spine," she said.But the 24-year-old Provo woman says she's learned a lot from the harrowing experience and is now beginning to put it behind her.
"I've decided that I can learn from the experience and make it a positive thing rather than dragging me down," she said.
Nine months have passed since Adams was convicted of smuggling guns into the Philippines and sentenced to 17 to 20 years in prison. A month before the conviction, she escaped from the country with the help of three Americans, partially because she was "tired of playing games" with the court system.
She was arrested in August 1989 after customs agents discovered 70 firearms in crates she was bringing into the country. She steadfastly claims she knew nothing about the guns and was hired by Richard Pedrioli to take the crates into the country. Pedrioli is serving a 64-month sentence for gun smuggling in a federal prison in California.
Her conviction is being appealed, but the appeal could take up to five years. Although U.S. officials believe she is innocent, she still stands convicted in the Philippines.
"The most important thing is just to get that overturned because I'm not guilty," she said.
The chances of her having to serve the sentence are next to none, however. The United States has no extradition treaty with the Philippines. But the conviction still affects her life.
When Adams first returned to Utah, she went into hiding for several weeks, partially out of fear that someone from the Philippines might come looking for her. Although that concern is not as large today, she still feels insecure about herself and her future.
"It's not a matter of feeling safe, but I can't have that dark cloud over me for the rest of my life," she said.
Adams is also concerned that the conviction could hamper job opportunities, including a career in the military that she has been considering. She says she worries less about other people judging her now but is still struggling with her self-confidence.
Ed Artis, one of the men who helped her escape the Philippines, said her future is the main reason he is still fighting to overturn the conviction and clear her name. He maintains that she was convicted because she fled the country and not because of the evidence.
"If I've ever met a hero in my life, he'd be it. He's my hero," Adams said. "He's definitely a humanitarian, one hell of a friend.
"I really wouldn't have any other choice but to let it go if it wasn't for Ed."
Adams weighed 85 pounds just before she left the Philippines, and doctors said her health was in grave danger. Today, her health continues to improve, she feels more relaxed and is also contemplating going back to school.
"I feel really good about what I'm doing," she said. "I know I won't progress if I keep feeling sorry for myself and what I've been through."