Crime

Wrongfully Convicted Man Leaves Prison After 32 Years

| by Brendan Kelly

A California man who was wrongfully convicted of murder has been released from prison after 32 years.

Family members and attorneys greeted 62-year-old Andrew Leander Wilson as he walked free from a Los Angeles jail on March 16 after Superior Court Judge Laura Priver overturned his conviction, according to UPI.

"I've been inside for 32 years, three months and 14 days," Wilson told CNN. "It's been that long."

Police arrested Wilson in 1984 for the stabbing of a 21-year-old man, though he maintained his innocence since his arrest. The man was sleeping in a truck when he was fatally stabbed. Also in the vehicle was the victim's girlfriend, Saladena Bishop.

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Attorneys for Wilson say the prosecution withheld key pieces of evidence concerning Bishop, the main witness.

Wilson's attorneys worked with students from the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent to prove that Wilson was wrongfully convicted.

The innocence project says Bishop picked Wilson out of a lineup after a police officer asked,"What about him?"

Prior to Wilson's trial, authorities deemed Bishop to be an unreliable witness because she had previously filed a false police report accusing somebody of attempted rape and kidnapping.

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Loyola's innocence project also says Bishop's friend revealed that she had stabbed her boyfriend in the past and that she likely killed her boyfriend. The project says none of that evidence was given to Wilson's attorney at the time of the trial.

Judge Priver reviewed the case and ruled that Wilson had been deprived of his constitutional rights to a fair trial. She vacated his conviction on March 15 and ordered his immediate release. The next day, he was free.

After 32 years in prison, Wilson was able to return to his family. Despite the years of his life lost, Wilson says he is not bitter.

"I'm past it," he said. "I just want to get something to eat right now and love my family."

Wilson held his daughter and sister's hands tight as he walked out of the jail.

"I couldn't breathe," Wilson's daughter Catrina Burke said of the moment she heard he was finally being released. "I started crying. I don't have words. I don't have words at all. But I still have a parent."

Wilson spoke to his 96-year-old mother, who lives in Missouri, after being released. He says his mother always believed he was innocent and told him he had to call her the moment he got out.

"I talked to her," Wilson told CNN, smiling. "My mother was the backbone. She's a 96-year-old pit bull."

Wilson had one important message to deliver after he was released.

"I say it all the time, don't stop fighting," he said. "Don't give up. It seems like that's what the justice system wants you to do and I never gave up. By the grace of God I was put in contact with Loyola Law School."

Sources: CNNUPI / Photo Credit: CNN

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