Thursday, March 17, 2011

More on the Innocence Project of Florida

The Innocence Project of Florida is currently pushing for Derrick Williams to have his case retried.

The 47-year-old man was sentenced to life for the Aug. 6, 1992, kidnapping and rape of a woman in a Palmetto orange grove.

Williams claimed his innocence throughout his trial and, in 2008, his  family sought help from the Innocence Project. It wasn't until July that the organization filed a motion with the Manatee County Clerk of Courts to have Williams exonerated. According to the Innocence Project, Williams' DNA was not collected from the collar of the assailant's shirt entered into evidence.

If the Innocence Project succeeds, Williams would become one of 267 people in the United States to have been exonerated by DNA testing since the organization was founded in 1992, according to the group's website.

The Innocence Project, founded in 2003, has exonerated 12 men in Florida since its inception, including James Bain, who was released in 2009 at 54 after serving about 35 years in prison for the rape of a young boy.

Also, Alan Crotzer, a St.Petersburg resident, was exonerated in 2006 after being convicted in 1981 for sexual battery, kidnapping, burglary, aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and attempted robbery and sentenced to130 years in prison.

"Sometimes the legal system gets it wrong," said Seth Miller, executive director of Innocence Project. "People can make mistakes."

More than 1,000 people write the organization each year for its assistance.

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