Two Black men from Florida have finally been freed after serving 42 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.
Back in May 1976, Clifford Williams Jr. and his nephew, Hubert Nathan Myers, were at a party in Jacksonville, Florida when two women were shot in a nearby apartment. One woman died.
Williams, 34 at the time, and Myers,18 at the time, were immediately arrested, convicted and sentenced to life in prison, CNN reports. On Thursday, 42 years later, the innocent men were released.
After being released, Williams and Myers held one another before gathering with family. “I’m nervous because I feel like I’m still locked up,” he said. “Once I get with my family and know I can look back … and the reality hits in, I think I’ll be all right.” The woman who survived lied saying Myers and Williams shot the woman while standing at the foot of the bed she shared with the murdered woman. However, evidence showed the shots were all fired outside, and from the same gun. But, that didn’t matter; the men were still convicted of the murder.
During their two-day trial, the men received no support from their attorneys. The legal team provided neither witnesses nor evidence, but partygoers reported the men were with them at the time of the shooting. Throughout their imprisonment, the men maintained they were innocent and fought for their freedom every chance they got. They filed multiple failed motions for “post-conviction relief,” prosecutors said. In 2017, the men petitioned the Conviction Integrity Review unit, which the state attorney created that year.
Another man eventually confessed to the crime, and reportedly felt bad Myers and Williams were locked up for his wrongdoing, according to the Conviction Integrity Review. The man died in 1994. Thankfully, the unit’s review resulted in Williams and Myers’ case being tossed. The Conviction Integrity Review unit determined that “it no longer has confidence in the integrity of the convictions,” according to a press release from State Attorney Melissa W. Nelson.
Williams,76, and Meyers, 61, were wrongfully convicted in the murder of Jeanette Williams (no relation) and attempted murder of Nina Marshall, Nelson’s office said. “I lost almost 43 years of my life that I can never get back,” Myers said in a report from the state attorney. “But I am looking ahead and will focus on enjoying my freedom with my family.”