[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----ORE., IDAHO, CALIF., GA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Oct 26 01:26:03 CDT 2007
Scholars debate Oregon's death penalty----100 people attend event at law
school at Willamette
It costs a lot of money to execute a person in Oregon.
That's about the only thing 2 legal scholars agreed on during a debate
about Oregon's death penalty at Willamette University Wednesday.
"I stand in front of juries and ask them to put murderers to death," said
Clatsop County District Attorney Joshua Marquis.
"In Oregon, the preferred sentence for persons convicted of aggravated
murder is life without parole," countered former Willamette University
College of Law professor Bill Long.
Nearly 100 people packed a lecture hall at the law school to hear the 2
men take on the divisive topic. The 2 fielded questions from students
In a show of hands, the vast majority of those in attendance said they
were against the death penalty.
Former Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Edwin Peterson was the
The discussion comes at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court waits to hear
arguments about whether administering a lethal injection to a condemned
inmate violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
In Oregon, capital punishment has a history almost as long as the state is
The death penalty became law 4 times in the state's history. It was voted
out twice and struck down once by the Oregon Supreme Court.
Still, executions, although infrequent in the state, pique the public's
interest and remain a source of controversy, passion and discourse.
Natalie Sims, a senior at Willamette University, attended the debate,
saying she's in favor of capital punishment.
"I support the death penalty as an option for juries,"the history major
said. "As society's opinion on the state's role in taking lives changes, a
jury should have the choice to support the state's actions or not. Like
abortion, it's an option that should be considered on a case-by-case
Isaac Robb, a senior at Willamette majoring in economics, offered an
"Due to the discriminatory nature of our current judicial system, it
appears to be morally objectionable for the state to take someone's life
based on their race or socioeconomic status," Robb said.
His comments came after Marquis noted that a number of studies have shown
that blacks constitute a disproportionately large share of inmates on
The attorney outlined a racial hierarchy that shows that black defendants
who murder white victims receive the highest rate of death sentences
across the board, with whites who murder whites getting the second
highest, followed by whites who murder blacks and blacks who murder
"Today, white people commit more murders in the nation than any other
group, while black women are most likely to be killed than any other
ethnic group," Marquis said.
For him, capital punishment is a moral issue.
For Long, it's a cost issue.
Both say it's one and a half to five times more expensive to execute a
person in Oregon than to give him life without parole. That's because a
condemned inmate has the right to at least 10 appeals once he's sentenced
to death, Marquis said.
"In all those legal cases, there are lawyers being paid by the state on
both sides, so the costs accumulate," Long said. "But if the person gets
life without parole, in most instances, he gives up the right for future
Only 1 female has been on Oregon's death row, Marquis said.
Jeannace Freeman and her lover made a pact to show how much they loved
each other, so one day they took Janice's 2 young children and hurled them
from a bridge over the Crooked River Gorge, about a 400-foot drop, he
"The crime absolutely shook the state," he said. "Jeannace was sentenced
to death in the 1960s, but her sentence was commuted to life. She was
later released and has been living as a free woman for years."
Oregon's original constitution did not contain a provision for the death
Capital punishment first was adopted by statute in 1864. At that time, it
was applicable only to those convicted of first degree murder.
>From 1864 to 1903, the authority to carry out executions was the sole
domain of county sheriffs.
In 1903, the Oregon Legislature, to restrict public attendance at
executions, amended the law to require executions be carried out at the
Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.
There are currently 35 inmates on Oregon's death row, according to the
Oregon Department of Corrections.
Their average age ranges from the late 30s to early 40s, the DOC said.
(source: The Statesman Journal)
On Jan. 29, 1904, H.D. Egbert became the first man to be hanged at the
Oregon State Penitentiary.
Between 1904 and 1914, a total of 24 men were hanged at the prison.
In 1914, Oregon voters, by constitutional amendment, repealed the death
In 1920, voters restored the death penalty by repealing the previous law.
That same year, Emmet Bancroft became the 1st to be hanged since
re-enactment of the death penalty.
In 1931, the state stopped using the gallows and began using lethal gas.
That year, LeRoy Hershel McCarthy became the 1st man to be executed in the
In 1964, Oregon voters again repealed the death penalty.
In 1978, voters reinstituted capital punishment by lethal gas. Under that
statute, the sentence was determined by the trial judge, without a jury.
In 1981, the Oregon Supreme Court struck down the statute because it
deprived the defendant of his right to trial by jury.
In 1984, Oregon voters amended a state statute that allowed a person
convicted of aggravated murder be given a separate sentencing hearing
before the trial jury.
In all, between 1904 and 1994, 115 people have been sentenced to death in
Oregon, and 58 of those have been executed. The rest have had their
sentences reduced, dismissed, commuted or have died in prison. Of the 58
executed, 55 were white and 3 black. Their ages ranged from age 17 to 67.
[source: Oregon Department of Corrections]
Awaiting Death Penalty Decision
Erick Virgil Hall was found guilty earlier this week of killing Cheryl Ann
Hanlon in the Boise foothills back in 2003.
Closing arguments ended this morning for the sentencing phase of this
The same jury that found Erick Virgil hall guilty will now decide whether
to put him to death.
Hall is already on death row for the 2000 murder of flight attendant Lynn
Henneman along the Greenbelt.
This would be Hall's 2nd death penalty sentence.
The jury began deliberating about an hour ago just after 11am and a
decision is expected sometime this afternoon.
(source: KBCI-CBS News)
Fran's Market killer dies awaiting appealCondemned hit man spent 27 years
on death row for 3 Fresno murders.
Billy Ray Hamilton, the long-haired hit man who fired a sawed-off shotgun
to kill 3 young people inside Fran's Market in Fresno 27 years ago, has
died, prison officials said Wednesday.
His death in a San Joaquin Valley hospital was from "natural causes," the
California Department of Corrections reported.
Hamilton's death at 57 came before the state could carry out his
execution, first imposed by Judge Roy MacFarland in Glenn County Superior
Court in 1982.
Margot Bach, a Corrections Department spokeswoman, said she could only
confirm that the death row inmate died at 3:18 p.m. Monday in "an outside
That bewildered Roy and Nadine White, parents of Douglas White, an
18-year-old clerk killed by Hamilton on Sept. 5, 1980.
Why, they asked, had Hamilton's death taken 27 years, while the murder of
White, Josephine Rocha, 17, and Bryon Schletewitz, 27, took only minutes?
Why couldn't the state legally execute their son's killer, instead of
allowing Hamilton to die naturally? Why had they and other taxpayers had
to pay to keep him alive so long?
"Goodness sake!" Roy White said. "He should have been shot outside the
market. I'm glad he suffered."
Hamilton was convicted of being the trigger man for Clarence Ray Allen, a
Folsom Prison convict who at that time was serving a life sentence for an
earlier murder. Prosecutors convinced jurors that Hamilton had killed the
three young people to carry out Allen's revenge against the owners of
Fran's Market, Ray and Fran Schletewitz, for testimony against him in an
'We're both glad he's dead'
Over the years, the victims' families had argued that if the death penalty
is a deterrent and if Hamilton and Allen were convicted of a revenge
killing in retaliation for testimony against Allen, what better grounds
could there be for execution?
The Whites had written to Gov. Schwarzenegger about the time it takes to
carry out death penalties in California.
"Once it's committed, it should take 72 hours" from conviction to
execution, said Roy White.
Nadine White said, "You just kind of stick your head in the sand."
Hamilton had been "kept alive at our expense. We all paid for that -- to
keep him alive and kicking and causing more problems."
Asked whether the killer's death would bring them peace, Roy White said,
"I hope so. This just keeps going. We're both glad he's dead."
Allen, the inmate who ordered the killings from inside prison, was
executed on Jan. 17, 2006. His motive, according to court testimony more
than a quarter-century old, was revenge. Allen was angry that Ray
Schletewitz and his son, Bryon, had testified against Allen, leading to
his 1977 murder conviction.
Hamilton, who committed the murders shortly after his release from prison,
was convicted, then sentenced to die for the market killings as Allen's
The case lasted years on appeal, going to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lawyers recall case
Gerald Kahl, who once represented Hamilton as a public defender, called
the triple homicide "a horrendous thing." His client's defense, Kahl said,
was that authorities had captured, tried and sentenced the wrong man.
"It surprises me that it's been 27 years, and that the matter hadn't been
resolved," said Kahl, who is now retired. "I assume it hadn't gone
completely through the system."
The lawyer made clear that he had always spoken with his client in safety,
when Hamilton was locked up and under guard.
Rendered harmless, Hamilton struck Kahl as "a nice guy. He didn't try to
overwhelm you or tell you how to do the case."
Kahl said Hamilton's acquiescent personality -- once he was disarmed,
locked up and thoroughly controlled -- led him to wonder whether Hamilton
had acted under the influence of disorienting drugs to commit the brutal
Hamilton's case remained on appeal. He had asserted that he suffered from
inadequate legal representation.
Ward Campbell, now supervising deputy attorney general, served as a
prosecutor in the Fran's Market case, becoming familiar with Hamilton's
role in the killings. Campbell said the time it took for Hamilton to die,
so long after his death sentence, is far from unique.
"A significant number of people on death row die of natural causes,"
(source: Fresno Bee)
Lawyer Disciplined by High Court for Mishandling Capital Appeal
A Davis attorney was reproved and placed on probation for 1 year by the
California Supreme Court yesterday for failing to complete an appellate
brief in connection with a capital appeal.
The justices, at their weekly conference in San Francisco, unanimously
adopted the State Bar Court's recommended discipline in the case of Thomas
They rejected a petition for review by State Bar counsel, who sought to
have Riordan suspended for mishandling the appeal of Richard Turner, a
convicted murderer sentenced to death in San Bernardino Superior Court in
Riordan was appointed to represent Turner in 1991. 10 years later, the
high court held him in contempt, removed him from the case, and referred
the matter to the State Bar for investigation after Riordan failed to file
the opening brief despite being granted 8 extensions of time in which to
Following a hearing, State Bar Court Judge Joann M. Remkenow the presiding
judge recommended reproval, but no penalty beyond that.
State Bar counsel sought review, seeking an actual 60-day suspension. The
Review Department, however, concluded that a 6-month stayed suspension and
1 year of probation would be an adequate penalty.
The Review Department explained that Riordan, despite only minimal
criminal law experience, none of it in capital cases, applied for
appointment at the urging of a partner in the firm with which he was then
affiliated. Several months after Riordan took on the case, the high court
appointed Santa Barbara criminal law specialist Robert Sanger as his
The appellate record was certified in July 1999 and the opening brief was
due in August of that year. In August of the following year, the high
court granted a 7th extension but said no further extensions were
contemplated, and when counsel asked for an 8th extension, the court
ordered the brief filed by Dec. 12, 2000 and declared: "No further
extensions of time will be granted."
The brief was not filed by that date, and a ninth extension was requested.
The high court denied the request, and on Feb. 21, 2001, with the brief
still unfiled, Riordan moved to withdraw and have Sanger continue as sole
counsel; the high court denied the request, ordered that the brief be
filed by July 31, 2001, and warned Riordan and Sanger that they faced
contempt or other sanctions if the brief was not filed on that date.
No Brief Filed
The brief was not filed by that date, and an OSC was issued on Aug. 15. In
November, the court removed Riordan from the case; it subsequently found
him in contempt and ordered him to repay more than $42,000 in interim fees
and to pay a fine of $1,000.
Riordan's then-firm paid the money, but asked him to seek employment
elsewhere. He went to another Sacramento firm, but now lists a Davis
address, with no telephone number, in State Bar records.
Sanger finished the brief and filed it in May 2002. The conviction and
death sentence were affirmed in 2004.
In an opinion by Judge Madge Watai, the Review Department found that
Riordan failed to perform competently, failed to comply with court orders,
and committed a further violation by waiting more than 3 years to notify
the State Bar of the sanctions imposed by the Supreme Court.
The Review Department rejected Riordan's contention that he was not
culpable because he drafted a proposed brief, although he did not file it
after Sanger and the assisting attorney at the California Appellate
Project both deemed it inadequate. The judge cited the attorney's time
records, which showed that he did little work on the appeal in 2000 or
2001; if he was in over his head, the judge reasoned, Riordan should have
moved to withdraw earlier.
"Given the length of time respondent was involved in the appeal, it is
simply inexplicable that he could not or did not either obtain adequate
assistance or take timely steps to withdraw, particularly in a case
involving the death penalty where diligent representation was of paramount
importance," Watai said.
The judge also rejected the argument that it was unnecessary for Riordan
to self-report the sanctions because they had been reported by the clerk
of the Supreme Court. The State Bar Act, she explained, imposes an
independent duty on counsel to report contempt orders and sanctions.
(source: Metropolitan News)
Richardson wants investigation of Nichols judge
Angered by trial delays and spiraling costs, Georgia House Speaker Glenn
Richardson set up a special committee Thursday to investigate whether the
judge in the Brian Nichols murder case has abused his office and should be
Richardson tapped state House Majority Whip Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), a
lawyer, to head the panel looking into the actions of Senior Superior
Court Judge Hilton Fuller in the Nichols case.
Fleming said the Georgia Constitution gives the Legislature the authority
to impeach judges. He said his committee would do a thorough investigation
before making recommendations to Richardson, but added, "There are serious
questions about the poor handling of public funds that needs to be
"Judge Fuller and others have charged the General Assembly for what they
say is a lack of funding for indigent defense, and yet there is apparently
no sufficient accounting for close to $2 million already spent," Fleming
said. "How many more millions will be spent giving Brian Nichols a defense
that no one, including the taxpayers, could afford for themselves?"
The speaker and top senators, including Senate President Pro Tem Eric
Johnson (R-Savannah) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Preston Smith (R-Rome),
have been strongly critical of Fuller's handling of the trial.
Prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty for Nichols, who is accused
of killing a judge, a court reporter, a deputy and a federal agent in a
shooting rampage that began at the Fulton County Courthouse on March 11,
Fuller chuckled Thursday after hearing about efforts to impeach him. His
only response was, "What can I say to something like that?"
Even Smith, one of Fuller's strongest critics, thought talk of impeachment
might be a bit much.
"I think we've got to do something, but it's not settled in my mind that
the answer is impeaching a judge," Smith said.
Smith said Fuller "has been grossly abusive in his management of this
trial process," but he was not sure how much information Fleming's
committee would be able to get on the case before it has been concluded.
Fuller has sealed records on things like defense attorney expenditures
that the committee would likely want to examine.
The trial has been delayed at least 3 times over funding for Nichols'
defense, which already has cost more than $1.2 million, and defense
attorneys want more.
The state's public defender office has said it has no more money to put
into the case. Fuller has threatened to hold the Georgia Public Defender
Standards Council in contempt for refusing to pay more of the defense
lawyer's legal fees.
This week, Rockdale County Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation was
appointed to decide whether Fuller can do so.
Johnson, the Senate leader, argued that Fuller and defense lawyers are
draining public defender funds in an attempt to make it too expensive for
prosecutors to seek the death penalty against anyone in the future.
Retired Fulton County Superior Court Judge Phil Etheridge said such
speculation is unfair. He vouched for Fuller's integrity and
"He's not going to let anyone chase rabbits, and if they bring an expense,
they're going to have to justify it to him, and if he approves it, it was
a necessary expenditure. You can take that to the bank," Etheridge said.
"From what I hear, these lawyers are very good. They're not grandstanding.
They're doing their job.
"I don't think the motivation is to bankrupt the state Public Defense
Standard Council to get rid of the death penalty," added Etheridge, who
supports the death penalty. "If you want the death penalty, you have to be
willing to pay for it."
Fuller also ordered Fulton County to come up with some money, but in
September, the Georgia Supreme Court blocked the order, saying expenses
were not "itemized expenses that are incurred ordinarily in a courtroom
Not only legislators have questioned whether Fuller, a retired DeKalb
Superior Court judge appointed solely to this trial, should stay on the
case. Superior Court judges have complained privately and to one another
that Fuller has lost control of spending in the case.
Henry County Superior Court Judge Arch McGarity said judges from across
the state were concerned about the negative publicity they were receiving.
Some have suggested that another judge be appointed to the case.
But the normal process to remove a trial judge is to go through the state
Judicial Qualifications Commission, and for that to happen, the judge
would have had to have been accused of committing an ethical violation.
Legislators may find replacing Fuller is beyond their powers, McGarity
"They can set up any committee they want to look into things. That is
their preogative," said McGarity, who is president of the Council of
Superior Court Judges. "If there is any way of impeaching a Superior Court
judge or senior judge, I would be surprised, but maybe they will enlighten
Cheryl Custer, executive director of the judicial commission, said the
impeachment powers in the state constitution are open to question and
especially so in Fuller's case because he is a retired, fill-in judge.
The governor, who appoints senior judges from the ranks of retired judges,
doesn't have the power to remove Fuller, Custer said. The only way a judge
has been involuntarily removed from office in the past has been by
election or by a ruling of the Georgia Supreme Court, she said.
Fuller's rulings in the Nichols case would not be something that would
come before the Judicial Qualifications Commission, said Clarke County
Superior Court Judge Steve Jones, the former chairman of the judicial
"They can't just remove him because they don't like what he is doing
unless it is a violation of the canon of ethics," Jones said.
Etheridge said judges should support Fuller.
"He is just getting hung out to dry," Etheridge said.
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Innocent man shares his 20-year struggle behind barsStory
Highlights----Man who lost half his life in wrongful conviction lets go of
anger, looks ahead
Misidentification in 1985 rape case imprisoned Willie Williams for 22
"I felt betrayed ... I felt like these people had taken my life," says
DNA evidence has directly exonerated 208 wrongly convicted people in U.S.
Willie "Pete" Williams had no idea when he was pulled over by police that
the criminal justice system was about to steal away half his life.
Willie "Pete" Williams, 45, spent half of his life behind bars for a 1985
rape he did not commit.
Sitting in the flashing glow of Atlanta squad car lights along Georgia
State Road 400, the 23-year-old part-time house painter didn't know police
were looking for a rapist who had struck nearby 3 weeks earlier.
Police questioned -- and then arrested Williams, triggering a series of
mistaken witness identifications that led to his unjust conviction for
rape, kidnapping and aggravated sodomy.
It was 1985 and Williams was sentenced to serve 45 years in prison for a
crime he didn't commit. "I felt betrayed. ... I felt like these people had
taken my life for something I didn't do. I felt like I was being treated
unfairly. ... I felt very, very angry towards everybody," said Williams
last week, a free man after nearly 22 years behind bars.
He said he spent many of those years stoking that anger by fighting guards
and inmates, while his childhood friends were developing careers and
Earlier this year, after DNA science proved his innocence, the 45-year-old
with a graying mustache stood again before a judge -- who this time
Williams' troubling story provokes discomfort in a nation that prides
itself on a justice system where the accused are innocent until proven
guilty. So far, DNA evidence has directly exonerated 208 wrongly convicted
people in the United States, according to the Innocence Project. It's
unknown how many prisoners now locked up in American jails could be freed
by new testing of DNA evidence.
A jury of Williams' peers convicted him in the April 5, 1985, rape,
kidnapping and aggravated sodomy of a woman in Atlanta's Sandy Springs
The victim told police her attacker first approached her to ask if she
could help him find someone named Paul. Then he produced a gun and forced
her into her car, according to police. They then drove to a dead-end
street where the assault occurred.
Because the science behind each person's unique DNA signature was new to
police in 1985, the key evidence that sealed Williams' fate was the
testimony of 3 eyewitnesses who mistakenly said they recognized him.
"Mistaken eyewitness identification has long been the single biggest
factor in the conviction of innocents," said Barry Scheck, co-founder of
the Innocence Project.
"That has got to be important to everybody, because if we can reform
identification procedures, it will keep more innocent people out of jail
and convict criminals who really commit the crimes."
As a new prisoner Williams said he fought a painful struggle against the
raw deal the world had dealt him. When board members denied him parole the
1st of 3 times Williams said, "they had to escort me to 'the hole'
"I couldn't function out there around the other inmates," Williams said.
"I was mad, I was bitter. I felt the whole world just gave me up."
It wasn't until 1997 -- more than a decade after he was locked away --
that Williams' own voice freed him from the grip of his anger. At Valdosta
State Prison, a close friend named Charlie Brown helped him join a
Christian choir -- leading him to accept Jesus.
"Singing was like being out here, in a sense. It freed me from all the
things, from all the fights, from the officers who were cruel, prison,
stabbings," said Williams, who especially embraced the hymn "Amazing
After singing got a hold of Williams, he said the hardest part of his
heart started to dissolve.
"I didn't feel angry anymore -- or any hate."
Sequential double-blind lineups are standard in:
Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Hennepin County, Minnesota
Ramsey County, Minnesota
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Santa Clara County, California
Virginia Beach, Virginia
[source: Innocence Project]
To prevent more tragedies like Williams', innocence projects in many
states, including Georgia, have begun pressing lawmakers to adopt special
witness ID procedures called sequential double-blind lineups. Such lineups
are administrated by officials who don't know who the suspect is and
present each member of a lineup one-by-one instead of simultaneously.
Witnesses who see several potential suspects simultaneously are more
likely to choose a person who looks most like the perpetrator -- but who
may not actually be the perpetrator, according to the Innocence Project.
The group also cites research that says misidentification is reduced if
the person overseeing the lineup is "blind" to which person in the lineup
is the suspect.
Georgia's Legislature held hearings Monday in Atlanta to study the
research and the proposed standards, which have been adopted by New Jersey
and jurisdictions in Minnesota, California and elsewhere.
Louis M. Dekmar, vice chair of the Commission on Accreditation for Law
Enforcement Agencies is skeptical of the research, but said the issue
deserves further study.
"I don't believe the research is so compelling that we need to make swings
and changes that don't bode well for criminal investigations and the
criminal justice process," said Dekmar, a 30-year law enforcement veteran
and chief of police for LaGrange, Georgia.
Dekmar argues investigators should be allowed to administer lineups to
gauge reaction while they look at witness faces, to see if a witness is
"stressed, weeping, nervous -- all those reactions that help detectives
formulate whether this is a strong identification or a weak
April 5, 1985: Woman raped, kidnapped in Atlanta, Georgia
Williams arrested: April 28, 1985
Sentence: 45 years in prison
Freed: January 23, 2007
Exonerated by DNA evidence: February 13, 2007
February 10, 2007: DNA tests result in arrest and eventual conviction of
Kenneth G. Wicker for the 1985 rape
[sources: Innocence Project, Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Williams was convicted on the identification of three witnesses who first
singled him out from a photo lineup, according to the Georgia Innocence
More than 20 years later, Georgia Innocence Project attorneys arranged to
compare Williams' DNA with DNA evidence collected from the 1985 rape. It
was not a match, proving that Williams was not the attacker and opening
the door to his release.
Shortly after Williams' exoneration, DNA science again played a role in
the case when a genetic match resulted in the conviction and imprisonment
of Kenneth G. Wicker for the crime that Williams had been wrongly
convicted of. Years earlier Wicker had served four years in prison for
another rape and two attempted sexual assaults, according to the Atlanta
As Scheck's Innocence Project marks its 15th year, the 1995 O.J. Simpson
defense attorney describes it as a movement for criminal justice as well
as human rights.
"I think that it's going to be remembered for getting innocents out of
jail, but also for changing the paradigm in the criminal justice system,"
"There is a greater understanding now that sound scientific and critical
research can go a long way toward proving injustice and prosecuting the
Sometimes an Innocence Project client is confirmed to be guilty by DNA
evidence, but the group doesn't make the number of those cases available.
Theoretically, If key DNA material in a case is properly preserved,
there's no time limit on revisiting old cases, according to the Innocence
Critics accuse the group of denying closure to communities and victims'
families by giving new life to old cases. To that, project spokesman Eric
Ferrero said, "Victims are not served by the wrong people being
Perhaps the most important victory for the project has been its role in
sparing the lives of 15 people condemned to death. In 2000, 13 condemned
prisoners were exonerated by a group of Northwestern University students
affiliated with the Innocence Project.
Some of the innocent prisoners were freed through DNA testing, others were
exonerated after new trials were ordered by appellate courts.
Those spared lives prompted then-Illinois Gov. George Ryan to declare a
state moratorium on all executions and later, a blanket clemency of all
167 death row prisoners.
The moratorium remains in effect while Illinois authorities consider
proposed reforms to the system.
Back in Georgia, during the ten months since Williams' friends and family
welcomed him home with hugs and kisses, he's been taking his time
rejoining society, attending electronics classes and dealing with his top
complaint: 21st century traffic.
Williams has found a home in a church congregation and plans to join its
choir, holding on to the spiritual anchor he formed in prison.
Money is tight for Williams, and, according to the Innocence Project, only
45 percent of those exonerated by DNA evidence have been financially
compensated. He expects some compensation from Georgia, although the state
has no law guiding such cases.
Regaining his freedom has renewed Williams' belief in the power of prayer,
but he said it has done little to repair his faith in the nation's justice
system. He wonders how many other Americans are still suffering injustices
like his own.
"When I see someone on television when they say, 'this is a suspect,' I
have a difficult time believing that that actually is a suspect," Williams
"That's how I'm affected now."
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