DURHAM – It has been exactly one year since Greg Taylor became a free man. He is the first person to be found innocent and released through the judicial process in the United States without DNA evidence.

He was behind bars for nearly 17 years which is 6,149 days.

“It's hard to believe it's been a year,” said Taylor.

The 48-year-old Cary man was convicted of the murder of Jacquetta Thomas. For years, Taylor tried to prove his innocence. Eventually the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry commission set him free. Later, he received a pardon from the governor and $750,000 from the state.

“Some people might say that's a lot and some people may say it's not nearly enough,” Taylor said. “All I say is it's $5 an hour, would you spend an hour in prison for $5?”

While Taylor now has the freedom to do whatever he wants, adjusting to life outside the prison doors has not been easy.

“He's not ready to go back work, having all of that structure and authority for so long,” Chris Mumma, Taylor's attorney, said in an interview in December.

Two months later, Taylor feels the same way. It's taken him awhile to get used to a daily routine but did recently take a trip to the Bahamas with his family. Now, he focuses on the present because looking ahead is too difficult.

“I really lost sight of the future and to be able to pick that vision back up now is just tough,” Taylor said.

Still, his toughest days out in the real world are much better than his best days behind bars.

“Nobody ever said that life was fair. It's just how you deal with it that counts,” he said.

The investigation into the murder of Thomas is ongoing. As far as Taylor, he said they are looking into some legal avenues.