Man released from Louisiana Penitentiary after 37 years of 'wrongful incarceration'

He was jailed at 22, now is nearly 60

Dave Cohen, WWL First News early edition
March 22, 2019 - 7:14 am

Innocence Project

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Archie Williams spent more time behind bars than he did as a free man for a crime he didn't commit.  He was locked up from 1982 until this week on what the Innocence Project says was a wrongful conviction.

"Archie Williams was freed from Angola prison after almost 37 years of wrongful incarceration," a news release proclaimed. "The Innocence Project opened Archie’s case in 1995, and the 24 years of representation that followed is the longest we’ve ever litigated a case for exoneration."

Williams, a black man, was 22 years old in 1982.  He was arrested and convicted for raping a white woman in Baton Rouge.

The victim identified Williams from a lineup, but the Innocence Project says that was only after police showed her pictures of Williams several times.

"The victim is 5’7” and said her assailant was taller than she is; Archie is 5’4” and had an alibi for the time of the crime. But based on the flawed identification, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole," Executive Director Maddy deLone said.

Defense attorneys have been fighting for years to exonerate Williams, but it was only recently that a judge allowed new evidence in the case to be considered.  They insisted fingerprints left at the scene of the crime pointed to another man.

"Finally, earlier this year a new judge allowed the fingerprints to be submitted for a comparison search in the FBI’s national fingerprint database. The search identified another man who died before being questioned about the crime."

Based on that, the DA's office agreed with the defense in calling for Williams to finally be freed.

"The prosecutor’s office joined the Innocence Project and Innocence Project New Orleans to ask the court to vacate the conviction and exonerate Archie based on new evidence of innocence."

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