Nearly two decades after a Florida man was convicted of a rape he always said he didn’t commit, the State Attorney unexpectedly released him from prison on Monday and decided not to retry the case after DNA testing excluded him as the perpetrator.
For the first time in 18 years, Derrick Williams was home to celebrate the birthday of his son, who turns 29 today, reported The Bradenton Herald.
Williams was convicted in 1992 after being identified by the victim who she claims removed a gray t-shirt during the attack to cover her face. He was convicted by a jury despite his alibi and a finding before the trial that a hair found on the t-shirt could not belong to Williams. Wearing a t-shirt that read “Not Guilty,” Williams addressed the media.
“This is love,” he said.
Williams couldn’t stop smiling as he offered his thanks in front of the media.
“I want to first thank God because without him this wouldn’t be happening and I want to thank my family for believing in me,” he said. “It’s going to be a long road for me, but a sweet one.”
He said when he got the news Monday morning he fell to the floor and thanked God.
Innocence Project of Florida
, who represented Williams, worked on his case for more than five years and was preparing to fight for his release on bond, according to its executive director Seth Miller.
Williams spent the night with his family celebrating his release and his son’s birthday and held his grandson for the first time but didn’t have much time to look to the future.
“I know one thing, I need a job right now,” he said.