Two Black Men in Florida Freed After 42 Years in Jail
|thenorthstar||Apr 2, 2019|
In May 1976, then 34-year-old Clifford Williams and his 18-year-old nephew Hubert Nathan Myers were arrested, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison following the shooting of two women in a nearby apartment in Jacksonville. One of the victims died as a result. Forty-two years later, Williams and Meyers — now 76 and 61, respectively — were released after the state tossed their convictions, WFOX reported on March 28. Both men maintained their innocence and asked the Conviction Integrity Review unit, created in 2017, to take over their cases. A woman who survived the shooting told police that Williams and Meyers emptied their guns nearby the bed she shared with the victim, Jeanette Williams (no relation), but new evidence found the shots came from outside the apartment and from the same weapon. They filed various motions for “postconviction relief” to no avail, prosecutors told CNN. The unit unearthed egregious findings. Another man confessed to killing Jeanette Williams because he felt bad for the fate of both men, but the alleged killer passed away in 1994, according to the news channel. The unit declared that “it no longer has confidence in the integrity of the convictions,” according to a statement from State Attorney Melissa W. Nelson. They were also cleared of the attempted murder of Nina Marshall, who died in 2001. Once Williams and Meyers learned that they were wrongfully convicted and that their life sentences were vacated, they shook hands and had an emotional hug surrounded by their loved ones. Myers kissed the floor once he stepped out of the courtroom, WFOX reported. “I'm nervous because I feel like I'm still locked up,” Meyers told the news channel. “Once I get with my family and know I can look back ... and the reality hits in, I think I'll be all right.” He continued, “I lost almost 43 years of my life that I can never get back … But I am looking ahead and will focus on enjoying my freedom with my family.” This is the first time the unit has yielded such astonishing results. Six of its investigations have resulted in a denial. “Justice encompasses seeing that the correct result occurs, ensuring that the guilty are convicted and appropriately punished, and ensuring that the innocent are not,” the unit’s report on the case said. “Although there is no definitive proof of innocence, such as DNA evidence, the panel agreed that there was sufficient credible evidence to support a finding that the defendants are, in fact, 'probably' innocent of the charges.”
About the Author
Robert Valencia is the breaking news editor for The North Star. His work as editor and reporter appeared on Newsweek, World Politics Review, Mic.com, Public Radio International and The Miami Herald, among other outlets. He’s a frequent commentator on foreign affairs and US politics on Al Jazeera English, CNN en Español, Univision, Telemundo, Voice of America, C-SPAN, Sirius XM and other media outlets across Latin America and the Caribbean.