But a judge threw out the conviction after hearing new testimony last week.
Bailey Hicks witnessed the moment when Small walked out of prison.
"I can't describe it. I'm scared," Small said. "Just being out, I've been locked up for so long, I don't know what it's like."
He was locked up nearly three decades ago at just 15 years old. Small was charged and later convicted of murdering a woman in Wilmington.
Pam Dreher was found shot in the head inside of a fish store. Small always said he was innocent.
"I know it wasn't me, I'll put my life on that," Small said.
A judge ruled there wasn't enough evidence to justify his conviction and released him on house arrest.
"We believe he is completely innocent, so it's a step towards justice, but there is a bigger step that needs to be taken," Christine Mumma, Small's attorney, said.
That next step is up to prosecutors. "I hope they do the right thing and let justice come through like it should," Small said as he was released from prison.
There is no timeline for how long that could take. Small is focusing on enjoying the simple things outside of prison walls. He said he's looking forward to taking a hot bath.
Small will be under house arrest for now. Prosecutors say that his conviction was tossed aside on procedural grounds and that they may conduct a new investigation and bring new charges.