“Better late than never,” former Marine Sgt. Hisashi Pompey and his wife Stacey said at the same time Tuesday, on what should have been his second evening in prison.

Instead, the Bowie, Md. man is free after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie kept him from serving three years behind bars.

Pompey was convicted of felony possession of an unlawful firearm after his friend grabbed his gun outside a nightclub in New Jersey. The weapon was legally registered in Virginia, where Pompey was based as a military police officer at Quantico. However, laws at the time banned the gun in New Jersey.

“I didn’t do anything wrong so it would have been stupid of me to take [a plea] deal,” Pompey said.

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Instead, a jury convicted him. He was sentenced to a mandatory term of three years in prison. But at nearly the last minute Friday evening, Gov. Christie commuted his sentence.

The Pompeys heard the good news while driving home just hours after they met with representatives from the governor’s office.

“He said no, you really need to pull over. The attorney then says the governor gave you clemency. At the time, we were still driving, but then I really had to pull over,” Pompey recalled with a big smile on his face.

“It was extremely overwhelming,” Stacey said. “I was extremely emotional.”

The Pompeys immediately called their family members. They had planned a “going away” dinner for him over the Easter weekend. Pompey said they were so happy with the news, they wanted to keep their dinner plans to celebrate instead.

The family hopes they’ll soon have more celebrating to do.

“I’m still considered a felon because of this situation,” Pompey said.

Gov. Christie commuted his sentence, which meant he didn’t have to serve time in prison. However, the conviction is still on his record.

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Pompey has applied for a full pardon to clear his name.

“I was told by my attorney that the governor is going to consider the application,” Pompey told WUSA9 anchor Bruce Johnson.

After family members, Bruce was one of the first people Stacey called. He helped spread the word about the family’s plight during an interview on ‘Off Script with Bruce Johnson.’ A story about the former Marine preparing for prison after a friend grabbed his gun was shared thousands of times on social media.

The Pompeys received an outpouring of support from people all over the country.

“Just extremely grateful,” Stacey told Bruce. “Grateful to you, grateful to your team, grateful for everybody that showed us support.”

The Pompeys said they will keep WUSA9 posted on when they hear from Gov. Christie about his pardon application.