HOUSTON (AP) — A man who spent 12 years in prison for a rape that DNA evidence later proved he did not commit has been pardoned by Gov. Rick Perry, eight months after his release from prison.

Perry signed the pardon June 13, but Ronald Gene Taylor and his lawyers received notice Thursday.

"It's been hard to get restarted," Taylor told the Houston Chronicle in a phone interview from Atlanta. "Little things, like filling out a job application or renting an apartment, are hard when you have to say you are a convicted felon. Now, I am officially a free man. I am so relieved."

The governor's pardon also clears the way for Taylor to collect about $700,000 from the state if he agrees not to sue. Taylor said he is weighing his options.