It had been 6,001 days since Kirstin Blaise Lobato was last a free woman.
But that changed Wednesday when she was released after spending the last 16 years in prison for the murder of a homeless man, despite no physical evidence linking her to the crime.
She had been waiting for justice for more than a decade. So had her mother figure, Michelle Ravell.
"I'm so exited; I cannot believe it's finally happening," Ravell said in anticipation.
"Oh my God. Are you kidding me?" Ravell said.
This was the day Lobato had waited for, for 16 years. She was 19 when she went to prison. She's since turned 35.
"I'm so grateful for all the people who have believed in me and who fought for me for all these years," Lobato said shortly after her release.
Her family had also been waiting for Kirstin's release for years, but they also had been waiting for a Christmas together, 16 years in the making.
Despite spending nearly half her life wrongly convicted of a crime, Lobato was upbeat and hopeful for the future. She said she wants her story to inspire change.
"This is amazing. I've been dreaming of this moment for years."
She reflected on her time in prison.
"(The judicial system) is broken. "There's a lot of people who are willing to sacrifice people's lives to further their careers."
In the future, Lobato said she plans to fight for those like her who have been wrongly convicted. But for now. even though the holidays have come and gone, her and her family, Christmas came on Jan. 3.
Lobato said she is a better person at age 35 than she was at 19.
"I've grown so much. I've met so many people. I have so many supporters and and loved ones that have fought beside me all these years and it has changed me in a way I can't even describe."
Kirstin Lobato said she wants to travel and go to places she's never been, starting with California Thursday.
Her family has set up a gofundme to help her get necessary items like clothes and food. They also hope she can see a doctor.
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