NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A decades-long battle for freedom is over for a Bronx man who was wrongfully convicted of murder.

WCBS 880’s Ethan Harp spoke with Larry McKee Monday evening, after McKee spent 21 years in prison.

“It still ain’t hit me,” McKee said.

McKee was in disbelief after a judge threw out his 1997 murder conviction.

“They knew from the beginning,” McKee said. “They knew.”

In court, McKee’s only words were, “Thank you, thank you.”

With that, applause filled the Bronx courtroom. McKee’s sister, Shakila, was overwhelmed by emotion as she awaited the ruling.

“They took my brother from me,” she said. “It’s been hard.”

McKee, 47, was convicted of the 1996 murder of Theodore Vance and was sentenced to 24 years to life in prison. But after the Bronx District Attorney’s office launched a special unit to investigate wrongful convictions, it learned grand jury evidence had never been shared with the defense.

The dying man said a “Spanish” man had shot him, but McKee is black.

McKee said the hardest part for him for those 21 years away was “losing people. And mostly, because I like to wander, so being confined, I can’t move around.”