A Florida man and his nephew are finally walking free after they were jailed for 42 years after being convicted in a murder they did not commit.
Clifford Williams Jr. and his nephew, Nathan Myers, have long maintained their innocence in the 1976 shooting death of Jeannette Williams as well as the shooting of her roommate, Nina Marshal. Marsha identified the uncle and nephew as the shooters who fired into the apartment in an ambush.
Now, thanks to an investigation by the Innocence Project and the State Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit, the men have been set free Thursday, March 28 News4Jax reported. The unit found there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove the men were guilty.
“Justice demands the granting of these motions,” Circuit Judge Angela Cox said after announcing she was vacating their convictions.
“My mother, she died while I was on death row. I just wanted to get out and be with my … kids. There wasn’t nobody but them,” 76-year-old Williams, who was 34 when convicted, tells reporters after leaving prison.”
Myers, now 63-years-old, was 18 when he was sentenced.
The two men were convicted of the murder. However, Clifford Williams Jr. and Myers were at a party during the shooting. The men’s alibi was corroborated by a number of witnesses at the party at the time.
Myers got he and his uncle’s case heard by writing the State Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit in 2017 asking for a review. The office launched an investigation a year later. Along with the Innocence Project, which absolves the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and improves the criminal justice system to prevent continued abuses, the team looked over the 43-year-old case.
The unit spoke with witnesses and re-examined evidence, including the ballistics report that showed the bullets came from one person and that they rang out from outside the residence, rather than inside the room. A review of the case also reveals that evidence was never brought up during the trial. Additionally, it was discovered that Nathaniel Lawson told friends of Williams Jr. and Myers that he actually committed the murder.
The original police report from 1976 confirmed Lawson was near the scene of the shooting. Despite his admission to others, he was never charged or investigated for it. Lawson has since died.
Under Florida law, Williams Jr. and Myers could receive $50,000 per year and a maximum of $2 million for having spent more than four decades incarcerated for a crime they did not commit.