Exonerate Innocent Man from Wrongful Murder Conviction: Gary Williams of Arkansas
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Note: Out of respect for others involved, one individual will initially be referred to as "Gary's Employee," and will then be referred to as simply "M" throughout the remainder of the text.
On the evening of January 10, 2006, Gary Williams went to visit an employee at his home. Upon Gary's arrival, an extraordinarily violent and well known drug dealer was armed with a loaded weapon, and was forcing his way in to the owner's residence with intent to both rob and murder "M."
A physical altercation ensued immediately between the intruder and "M." As the severity of the altercation escalated, "M" yelled out, "Gary, help! Get him off! He's going to kill me! Help, Gary!" At that point, Gary intervened and pulled the intruder off of "M." However, "M" retaliated, and went after the intruder with full force. It was then that Gary had to pull "M" off of the intruder, which took tremendous effort. Unfortunately, the intruder succumbed to the injuries inflicted upon him by "M." He was pronounced dead at the scene. Despite the fact that the intruder met his demise at the hands of "M," the ACTUAL murderer, both Gary and "M" were taken into custody and charged with Murder.
Several days later, "M" told a small group of people that Gary had "saved his life" and admitted to them that "Gary didn't kill that guy." Every person who was present when "M" made these statements reported immediately to the prosecutor, Angela Byrd, but she refused to listen, and even stated that she did not care. Several witnesses have verified Byrd's statements, as well as confirmed her blatant disregard for the truth in this case.
"M" gave false testimony under oath; he repeatedly lied on the stand when he spoke of the events that unfolded that night. He accepted a plea deal in exchange for a less severe sentence. He was charged with Second Degree Murder, and received a 30 year prison sentence. Gary, however, refused to accept any plea deal as he has NEVER ONCE ceased to proclaim his innocence. He IS innocent. There is an abundance of evidence, and numerous witnesses supporting this claim. Shockingly, Gary was convicted of First Degree Murder, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Gary and "M" were in the same facility for a short time following the trial and sentencing. It was in that time that "M" told numerous people, including a prison guard, that he LIED so he could get a better deal, and that he was angry with Gary for using a different lawyer than him. In fact, one of these people went on record giving a sworn statement relaying "M's" confession, and various other details he so willingly offered up.
With all of this evidence, WHY is Gary still in prison? WHY does "M's" confession, and the fact that he places such little value on human life carry no weight? Gary's conviction is entirely unjustified, and WE CAN DO BETTER! An innocent man should NOT have to live his life behind bars.
The turmoil that has emanated as a result of being ripped away from everyone Gary knows and loves has caused irreversible damage. When you consider the spectrum of traumatization to the psyche of someone who's wrongfully convicted — the infinite number of ways in which these afflictions infiltrate their being — these afflictions are permanent. It would be extremely difficult, if not entirely impossible, to undo the permanent damage that has been done to Gary over the past 13 years. With each passing day, the damage only grows worse. Every moment counts in this fight for justice. Every minute Gary spends as a prisoner is lost forever — missed weddings, missed births, missed graduations — these minutes, these moments, these memories, they can never be gotten back.
Our criminal justice system is complex, and it can be overwhelming and confusing for anyone who doesn't understand how it works. I've seen our justice system do great things for some people, but it has FAILED Gary. Justice is in order here, and it is long overdue.
We have constitutional protections that exist to ensure the rights of those accused and convicted are respected, but the constitutional violations that are present in this case are painfully obvious. A wrongful conviction stems from a fundamental breakdown in the legal process — what the uninitiated like to call a “technical error.” In Gary's case, this was abundant as prosecutors buried crucial evidence, witnesses lied, police coerced false confessions, and defense attorneys performed so poorly that they basically failed to advocate at all. These “technical errors" matter because they violate the constitution, which guarantees all criminal defendants the right to be free from police and prosecutorial abuses, to have access to favorable evidence in the state’s possession, and to have a defense attorney who will fight for their cause.
There is a copious amount of evidence to support every statement made by Gary, as well as those made on his behalf. He should be able to present the evidence. We are asking that justice be served for him. No one should have to serve time for a crime that they didn't commit. Additionally, we ask that those who lied under oath, coached witnesses prior to trial, and threatened the lives of so many people who testified on behalf of Gary's innocence should all be re-examined, and held accountable accordingly.
Gary is a loving father, a grandfather, a son, an uncle, a cousin, a friend to all, and a child of our Heavenly Father. We are not asking for a guilty man to walk freely, but for an innocent man to be given his life back as a wrongful conviction can be proven.
Pretending this issue doesn't exist doesn't make it cease to exist. Ignoring it doesn't make it any less real. Standby idly by because you believe you can't make a difference is inexcusable. It's time to speak up for those who can't speak for themselves. If we don't do our part to find a solution, then we're part of the problem.
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