Louisiana Exoneree Seeks Compensation
Nearly three years ago, Michael Williams was exonerated of second-degree murder in Louisiana. According to the
, Williams is now seeking compensation from New Orleans and the state for the more than 15 years he spent in prison for a crime he did not commit.
In 1996, a young woman was stabbed to death and then dumped onto a road. A single eyewitness testified that he had seen Williams and the victim arguing in Williams’ car on the night of the crime, and that he saw Williams push the victim’s body out of his car and onto the street. The eyewitness — whose testimony served as the primary evidence that led to Williams being convicted and sentenced to life in prison — recanted in 2009. Lawyers at
Innocence Project New Orleans
took on Williams’ case and through investigation were able to prove that police had actually talked to another witness of the crime, but never shared that additional information with the defense.
reports that Benjamin Haley of the law firm Covington & Burling has taken on Williams as a pro bono client and has filed two suits against Jefferson Parish prosecutors and law enforcement officers involved in Williams’ wrongful conviction, claiming that they suppressed exculpatory evidence.
The suit filed in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans claims Williams’ right to due process was violated and the suit filed in state court seeks damages under the Louisiana Innocence Compensation Fund statute.
reports: Williams and his lawyer say that they are seeking more than money. “It’s more important to hold the police and prosecutors accountable,” says Haley. “I don’t want anything like this to happen to someone’s husband, father and son again,” Williams says.
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