innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Friday, February 23, 2007

Pete Williams Officially Exonerated

This article appeared on the website of the Georgia Innocence Project on February 13, 2007:

PETE WILLIAMS OFFICIALLY EXONERATED

Atlanta -Wishing Pete Williams "the best" for the rest of his life, Judge Thomas Campbell officially exonerated Willie O. "Pete" Williams in a hearing today in Fulton County Superior Court.

The judge granted an Extraordinary Motion for a New Trial filed on Williams' behalf by the Georgia Innocence Project. Representatives from the Fulton District Attorney's office then told the judge they did not intend to prosecute Mr. Williams further.

DNA tests earlier this year proved Williams' innocence of the 1985 rape and kidnapping for which he served nearly 22 years in prison.

Standing by Williams at the brief hearing were his attorneys, GIP Executive Director Aimee Maxwell, volunteer attorney Sandra Michaels, and GIP intern Cliff Williams, who located the DNA evidence that proved Williams' innocence.

Also in the courtroom were Williams' family and dozens of supporters including former GIP intern Ashley Tyson-Mackin, who first identified Williams' case as a strong one, and three previous Georgia exonerees, Robert Clark, Clarence Harrison, and Calvin Johnson, Jr.

Attorney Michael Schumacher, who served as Williams' defense attorney during his trial, was among the first to hug Williams in congratulations at the hearing's conclusion. Schumacher had argued vigorously during the appeals process that another man was responsible for the crime, but those arguments fell on deaf ears. Just days ago, Atlanta police arrested the man that Schumacher contended two decades ago was the real perpetrator. That man had pleaded guilty to three other attacks, and DNA testing by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found that the DNA in one of those attacks matched the DNA in the case for which Pete Williams was wrongly convicted.

Said Maxwell, "Today is the official end of a decades-long nightmare for Pete Williams. It is now up to us at GIP -- and the entire state -- to help Mr. Williams rebuild his life."

The Atlanta law firm of McKenna, Long & Aldridge is already assisting in that effort. Today, McKenna Long's partner David Balser presented Mr. Williams with several thousand dollars' worth of gift cards, the result of donations from the firm's employees.

Pete Williams becomes the sixth DNA exoneree in Georgia and the 195th in the nation.
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For the latest media coverage on the Pete Williams story, please visit our Articles page.
Four of the six Georgia DNA exonerees join together for Pete Williams' exoneration hearing: Calvin Johnson, Jr., Robert Clark, Williams, and Clarence Harrison.

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