Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Man Freed after Serving 20 Years for Murder

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Man Freed after Serving 20 Years for Murder

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * A St. Louis man who had his sentence of life without parole vacated by a judge last month walked free Thursday after a compromise with prosecutors that saw him resentenced to the 20 years he'd already spent in prison for a 1993 murder.

Anthony Williams, who still asserts his innocence despite agreeing to the compromise, laughed and hugged family, friends and supporters outside the St. Louis Justice Center less than an hour after a brief hearing in St. Louis Circuit Court.

"I haven't slept for two weeks with the thought that I might be home," Williams said.

He was referring to Cole County Judge Daniel Richard Green's June 18 ruling that overturned Williams' first-degree murder conviction, citing evidence withheld by prosecutors. Green gave prosecutors until Thursday to decide whether to decide to retry Williams or else he would walk free.

But Green reopened the issue Wednesday over a procedural matter. The Missouri attorney general's office had argued that the claims that prosecutors had not turned over evidence were mentioned in a hearing but not in Williams' original pleading. Green vacated his ruling and asked prosecutors and defense attorneys to submit new proposed orders on the case, prompting talks between Bukowsky and prosecutors.

Those discussions set up Thursday's hearing. Citing a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made an automatic sentence of life without parole unconstitutional for juveniles, and the Missouri legislature's failure to provide another option for first-degree murder, St. Louis Circuit Judge Bryan Hettenbach went along with a proposal supported by both sides. He sentenced Williams to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder and armed criminal action. The judge then gave Williams credit for the time he'd served in prison.

After his release, Williams was heading to Columbia, as he has family in mid-Missouri. He told reporters that in the future, he planned to go to college, work with Bukowsky and advocate for other inmates that he said are innocent.

Williams continued to proclaim his innocence after his release, although the resentencing means he will be a convicted felon. …

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