NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – ONE New York City The man who spent 23 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit was officially cleared on Thursday.
In the first successful wrongful conviction case about Staten Island, a judge overturned the 1997 conviction for 50-year-old Grant Williams, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported.
“I used to tell everyone in prison that I was innocent,” Williams said outside court. “They said, ‘Oh Williams, everyone says that.’ I said, ‘I’m telling the truth. One day you’ll see me on the news and they’ll say I’m innocent, ‘and today is that day. “
Williams served more than two decades behind bars for Shdell Lewis’ death in the 1996 shooting outside Stapleton NYCHA Housing Complex. He has been on parole since 2019.
At the time of the murder, only one witness identified Williams as the shooter. The officer chasing the gunman gave an appearance description that did not match Williams. The shooter left behind a Wu-Tang-Clan hat that hasn’t been tested for DNA. There is no forensic evidence or fingerprints to tie Williams to the crime.
“I was disappointed with the verdict. I couldn’t believe it,” said Cynthia Franklin, Williams’ mother.
In 2017, the Staten Island District Attorney’s Integrity Unit of Trust relaunched the case. They discovered new evidence, interviewed new, credible witnesses who were initially uninformed, and examined Williams’ alibi.
Williams was working at the Wu-Tang Clan recording studio that day.
“He left, a part of me also left…. So it’s never really the same again,” said “rapper” Ghostface Killah. “
Williams, a father of three, also misses out on precious time with his children.
“I never want no one to be in that situation again. So I will educate as many people as I can,” Williams said of his future plans.
Williams earned a college degree in prison and began working on a bachelor’s degree.
He is not vindictive.
“I knew it was going to happen. I never had,” Williams said.
The DA’s office said it regretfully couldn’t return those years to Williams, but it could return his name.