A Los Angeles County judge threw out the murder conviction of a man who had spent 32 years behind bars earlier this week. Andrew Wilson, who was convicted of robbery and murder in 1984, was released from custody on Thursday March 16. Mr. Wilson was represented by the attorneys of Loyola Law School's Project for the Innocent.
For the past thirty years, Wilson's mother, Margie Davis, wrote letters to innocence projects, lawyers, and anyone who she believed might be able to help about her son. She claimed he was wrongfully convicted, and asked for help. Finally, Project for the Innocent took on the case.
According to the attorneys on the case, the trial prosecutor allegedly withheld pertinent evidence, including evidence that the only eyewitness to the crime was not credible. There was further evidence that LAPD detectives directed the eyewitness to select Wilson from a set of pictures, asking if she recognized the man who committed the attack. Additionally, the defense argued that the prosecution suppressed evidence that the victim's best friend contacted the trial prosecutor before trial to implicate the girlfriend of the victim, who had stabbed him in the past.
The district attorney's office agreed at the beginning of Wilson's hearing that "cumulative errors" had denied Wilson a fair trial, and they do not plan to refile charges against him. However, they still assert that they do not believe Wilson to be factually innocent. The process of determining Wilson's factual innocence begins with a hearing on May 3 - he must be found factually innocent to receive compensation from the state for his time wrongfully served.
Superior Court Judge Laura F. Priver ordered Wilson to be released from custody as soon as possible. Wilson was greeted by his sister, daughter, and granddaughter as he walked out of Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles. His immediate plan is to visit his 96-year-old mother in St. Louis, where he hopes to eventually move.
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