An uncle and nephew who were wrongly imprisoned for a 1976 Florida murder were freed on Thursday (March 28) after a judge vacated their convictions.
Clifford Williams, 76, and his nephew, Nathan Myers, 61, were charged with the murder of Jeanette Williams after she was shot in an apartment she was renting from Williams.
Despite there being no evidence linking the men to the crime scene, and despite both men having alibis, Williams was sentenced to death and Myers to life in prison.
Both men have maintained their innocence ever since being convicted of the fatal shooting in which Nina Marshall – who some witnesses said was in a romantic relationship with Jeanette at the time – was also shot.
Regardless, they remained in prison for more than four decades until yesterday, a judge finally agreed with their account and declared them innocent.
As reported by News4Jax, Circuit Judge Angela Cox said:
Justice demands the granting of these motions.
After being released yesterday, Myers – who was just 18 years old at the time of the murder – kissed the ground and ‘thanked Jesus Christ’ for the turnaround.
— Bridgette Matter (@bridgetteANjax) March 28, 2019
Williams and Myers are the first men released since the state attorney’s office in Jacksonville started an initiative last year to review claims of wrongful convictions.
After an investigation by the Innocence Project and the State Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit found there was insufficient evidence, and contradicting evidence had since come to light, the judge made the decision to vacate their convictions.
Not only did the men not commit the murder, ABC News reports someone else confessed to it years after the men were imprisoned. The man was never charged or even investigated and has since died.
Just 90 minutes after their release, Williams and Myers appeared with their attorneys, who advised them to answer questions.
Williams said there was nothing he wanted more than to be with his children while he was on death row, after his mother passed away.
Myers, on the other hand, said he felt ‘blessed’ and not bitter about the situation:
Right now I feel blessed, you know, because I feel among friends. I’m not bitter for what happened to me because the Lord Jesus Christ made me to be a man.
I was a kid when I come to prison. I grew up on my own, so now I understand the things a man do. What I want to do now is have a chance to go out and be that man.
We are so thrilled to see justice in action today. This exoneration was initiated by the State Attorney of the Fourth Judicial Circuit, Melissa Nelson and her Conviction Integrity Review Unit.
These men have waited nearly 43 years to see this day. pic.twitter.com/DgmWdtajHy
— Innocence Project of FL (@FLA_Innocence) March 28, 2019
The review of the case showed that, despite the two men saying they were at a party down the street at the time of the shooting, and multiple people at the party confirming their story, this evidence was never brought up during the trial.
At the time, the prosecutor’s theory was that Williams and Myers committed the murder because of a drug debt owed by the victim, but no evidence of that was produced at trial.
In fact, the only evidence submitted was from the surviving roommate Marshall, who identified Williams and Myers as the gunmen.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).