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Intellectually disabled man wrongfully convicted as a teen wins release after 20+ years in prison

Corey Williams, who was wrongfully convicted at age 16 by prosecutors who acted with no regard for truth or justice, will finally regain his freedom after more than 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

In response to a petition filed by the MacArthur Justice Center in the U.S. Supreme Court, Caddo Parrish District Attorney James Stewart has agreed to stop its defense of this tragic injustice and release Mr. Williams’ immediately.

In January of 1998, Mr. Williams was an intellectually disabled 16-year-old child. He had an IQ of 68, and had suffered severe led poisoning as a young child. He was known throughout his community as a “duck” or a “chump,” someone who would take the blame for things he had not done.

When Mr. Williams was just three weeks past his 16th birthday, several older men took advantage of Mr. William’s vulnerability, blaming him for a murder that he did not commit. Witnesses told law enforcement on the night of the murder that Mr. Williams did not commit the offense and law enforcement officers believed the older men had conspired to blame Mr. Williams for the crime. Nevertheless, Caddo Parish prosecutor Hugo Holland and his staff hid that evidence, convicted Mr. Williams of first-degree murder and sought the death penalty

“This blatant miscarriage of justice by Caddo Parish cost Mr. Williams his youth. He has spent two decades behind bars for a crime he could not have committed – and prosecutors knew the truth when they sent him to prison,” said Amir H. Ali, Supreme Court & Appellate Counsel at the MacArthur Justice Center.

On March 2, 2018, the MacArthur Justice Center, in partnership with the Promise of Justice Initiative, filed a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court urging that the conduct of Caddo Parish prosecutors was a blatant violation of Mr. Williams rights under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  In response to MJC’s filing, the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office has abandoned its defense of this tragedy and finally agreed to send Corey home.

This morning, a state trial court in Caddo Parish accepted the District Attorney’s concession and approved Mr. Williams’ immediate release.

 “One evening, Corey went outside to hang out with friends. It has taken him 20 years to make it back home. No one can give Corey that time back.” said Amir H. Ali, Supreme Court & Appellate Counsel at the MacArthur Justice Center. “It is an understatement to say that this injustice was preventable. The record shows that the Caddo Parish prosecutors involved with this case went out of their way to make it happen. They were concerned about convicting someone for this murder, without regard to who it was.”

The MacArthur Justice Center hopes that the commendable act of restoring Mr. Williams’ freedom is a sign that serious efforts will take place to prevent such injustices from occurring again.


Posted in Press Releases & Statements