Wrongful conviction overturned 48 years later in Florida

Willie Williams has been cleared of all charges related to a 1975 attempted murder after attorneys found a key witness only identified him after being hypnotized, the Innocence Project of Florida said.

Willie Williams has been cleared of all charges related to a 1975 attempted murder after attorneys found a key witness only identified him after being hypnotized, the Innocence Project of Florida said.

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Willie Williams served nearly 45 years in prison for a Florida shooting he didn’t commit, lawyers say.

Now, his conviction has been overturned.

Williams was sentenced to life in prison after a 1975 attempted murder and robbery of a Jacksonville produce store, the Innocence Project of Florida said in a release Jan. 3.

“It has been more than 48 years since I was originally arrested for this crime,” Williams said in the release. “I always knew that I was not the shooter but I didn’t have the evidence to properly defend myself.”

Prosecutors at the time relied on a key witness, who identified Williams as the shooter, the IPF said. But Williams’ counsel didn’t know the witness had forgotten Williams’ face and was only able to identify him after being hypnotized, IPF attorneys said.

Williams was released on parole in June 2020 after 44.5 years in prison, according to the IPF.

The State Attorney’s Office began a conviction integrity review in 2021 after Williams said he was wrongfully convicted. During the review, the office learned prosecutors failed to “disclose key evidence that would have undermined the victim’s identification — the only evidence against Williams at his trial,” attorneys with the IPF said.

IPF attorneys Brandon Scheck and Seth Miller took up Williams’ case after this information was discovered.

Other witnesses gave conflicting testimony, but the state relied on the hypnotized witness’s identification, the IPF said.

“The State’s case rested solely on this identification from one of the victims and in closing argument the State indicated to the jury that it should believe this identification because

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