A Florida man and his nephew who were wrongfully imprisoned for murder for 42 years were released Thursday after a judge vacated their convictions. Clifford Williams, 76, and Hubert “Nathan” Myers, 61, were freed after prosecutors asked the judge for reconsideration. As per NBC News, the two men are the first people to be freed since the Jacksonville state attorney’s office began reviewing wrongful conviction claims as part of a new initiative.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson commented on her decision to release the men.
“When we have an opportunity to correct errors, we should do so.”
The two men were sentenced for the 1976 murder of Jeanette Williams, as well as the attempted murder of her girlfriend, Nina Marshall. Williams was fatally shot while she was sleeping, but Marshall was able to escape and get to the hospital. She subsequently identified Williams and Myers as the shooters.
According to WPTV, the pair said that they were at a birthday party just one block from the shooting, which other people at the party confirmed.
Myers stated at a news conference after the hearing that his first order of business is reconnecting with his family before thanking Nelson and Shelley Thibodeau, the attorney who re-examined the case.
“Everyone else had plugs in their ears and wouldn’t listen. I tried and tried and tried.”
“My mom died while I was on death row,” Williams added. “I just wanted to get out and be with my… kids. There wasn’t nobody but them.”
Two Florida men who had served 42 years in prison for murder have been cleared of the crime and released. https://t.co/tVROAHrvUo— AP South U.S. Region (@APSouthRegion) March 28, 2019
Despite their alibis and a lack of physical evidence connecting them to the shootings, Marshall claimed that the two men fired shots from the foot of her bed. But the recent report revealed that the available physical evidence did not prove this.
“In fact, the physical and scientific evidence actually contradicts her testimony about what happened.”
Marshall died in 2001, which means she was unable to be questioned by investigators that reexamined the case. In addition, the report claims that another man — who died in 1994 — admitted to carrying out the shooting. Not only that, but Myers passed a polygraph test administered during the review of his innocence.
“The culmination of all the evidence, most of which the jury never heard or saw, leaves no abiding confidence in the convictions or the guilt of the defendants.”
According to WJXT, Florida law requires that both men receive $50,000 per year up to a maximum of $2 million. However, this hinges on the absence of prior felony convictions.