On Tuesday, David Flores agreed to a plea deal that he knew would eventually let him out of prison. But he didn't know how soon until Thursday’s sentencing.
A Polk County judge gave Flores the maximum sentence under the terms of his plea deal, 35 years.
Flores had already served 15 years of that sentence after his original conviction for the shooting death of Phyllis Davis.
But with credit for time served and good behavior in prison, Flores was released from custody shortly after the hearing.
David Flores says his faith in God and the support of his family kept him from giving up even when he was serving a life sentence.
Less than an hour after he walked out of jail Thursday, he sat down with Channel 13, “I never doubted that I was going home. Never. Not one time,” Flores said.
But the 36-year old never expected his freedom would come just hours after being sentenced to 35 years in prison.
“It was a bit of a shock that it happened that fast,” he added.
David Flores walked out of jail before anyone in his family even knew, “[Dad] works in a factory and he had his ear plugs in and I walked all the way into the factory and was standing behind him when he turned around. He didn't even know I was out so, it was probably one of the best moments I’ve had in a long time,”
His family's faith in him has never wavered, now they’re grateful he’s out.
Flores says he only wishes Phyllis Davis' family could believe in his innocence.
After facing them at sentencing, Flores says he immediately regretted taking the plea deal.
“I was upset. When I went back to the jail, I wished that I hadn't taken the plea. I wished I would`ve went through the trial.”
At trial with all the evidence, he's confident he would have cleared his name once and for all.
But Flores couldn`t pass on the guaranteed get out of jail the state was offering, “My son was the biggest factor. I didn't want to take the chance of missing his 20s or his 30s.”
Not after he spent nearly half of his life behind bars, “When you're 19, you think you're grown and you're not.”
Now 17 years older, “I’ve made myself a better person because I wasn't the best person when I was younger. I still have a lot of work to do.”
But for the first time in a long time, he's finally free to focus on his future.
Flores says he plans to plans to move out of state to get away from what he described as a target on his back.
Phyllis Davis’ family reaction
While Flores celebrates his freedom, Phyllis Davis' family say justice has been taken away from them.
“Phyllis Davis` sister and brother would like it to be stated that this will never be over for them and our family,” Melissa Davis said.
“We have gained no closure through this plea deal. We do not believe that an innocent man with integrity and a conscious would ever accept a guilty plea that would taint their family name forever.
“My entire family agrees that he should not be released from prison.”
Had the case gone to trial, two new witnesses planned to testify that another man, Rafael Robinson, shot and killed Phyllis Davis.
He was shot and killed three months after Davis' murder.