Intellectually Disabled Man Wrongfully Jailed for Murder Is Freed After 18 Years

A judge has ordered the release of a man with intellectual disabilities whose lawyers say he was wrongfully jailed for the murder of a pizza deliveryman 18 years ago.

Corey Williams was 16 when he was arrested by Louisiana police over the January 1998 killing of Jarvis Griffin who was shot dead while delivering pizza to a house in Shreveport.

No evidence linked him to the crime and witnesses said they saw several older men steal money from Griffin while Williams ran away from the house after the incident, AP reported.

Screenshot (25) This undated photo shows Corey Williams who was 16 when he was charged with the murder of a pizza deliveryman. He will be released after nearly two decades for a crime his lawyers say he did not commit. Shreveport Police Department

His murder conviction in 2000 was based on the testimony of one of the older men, Chris Moore, the only one who identified him as the shooter.

But Williams’ attorneys always insisted there was “staggering” evidence of his innocence. This included one of the older men’s fingerprints being found on the murder weapon with the victim’s blood found on a third man’s clothing.

After an initial denial to police, Williams confessed, although it was “brief, devoid of corroborating details," his lawyers wrote in their March 2 petition to the Supreme Court.

"Having just assumed responsibility for a homicide, Corey told the officers, 'I'm tired. I'm ready to go home and lay down,'" his lawyers added.

His legal team later obtained recordings showing police believed that the older men wanted to frame Williams for the killing. Williams' disabilities meant his death sentence was overturned in 2004.

The petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case was signed by a group of 44 former prosecutors and Justice Department officials. 

In a deal struck with Caddo Parish attorneys, Williams has agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter and obstruction of justice charges. However, criminal justice news outlet the Marshall Project described the lesser charges as a harsh deal.

“By pleading guilty… he forgoes the chance to seek compensation from the state and will have a conviction on his record as he begins—at the relatively young age of 36—to chart a post-prison life for himself.

“His lawyers may have felt that getting Williams quickly out of prison, where he reportedly has been bullied because of his disabilities, was more important than ensuring he might one day seek compensation from a state unlikely to grant it.”

Defense attorney Amir Ali said in a statement: “Twenty years ago, Corey went outside to hang out with friends. It has taken him 20 years to make it back home. No one can give Corey that time back. But with Corey's immediate release, we end this horrible tragedy,” AP reported.

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