02/26/2013 01:37 pm ET Updated Feb 26, 2013

Nicole Harris, Chicago Mother, Released From Prison After Serving 7 Years On Wrongful Conviction

A Chicago mother got a long-awaited taste of freedom Monday after an appeals court ruled that she was wrongfully convicted of killing her 4-year-old son in 2005.

Nicole Harris was just 23 and a recent college graduate who had just moved back to Chicago when she was convicted in the death of Jaquari Dancy, her son, and sentenced to serve 30 years in prison in May 2005, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Nearly eight years later, she was released from the Dwight Correctional Center with a group of her friends and family -- including her other son, 14-year-old Diante -- there to greet her.

"I'm just overwhelmed and I'm thankful that it's going to be over," Harris told ABC Chicago. "I just want to get home to my son. I'm just ready to get on with my life and hold my son."

Harris had long maintained her innocence in the death of Jaquari, who was found dead in his bedroom with the elastic of his bed sheet wrapped around his neck. She claimed the law enforcement officers forced a confession from her during their interrogation, which was not videotaped, and that Jaquari's asphyxiation death had been accidental, NBC Chicago reports.

Despite Harris' Monday release, her legal battle is just beginning: the state is appealing the appeals court's ruling and Cook County prosecutors may still attempt to retry Harris, according to the Tribune.