March 17 (UPI) — A man wrongfully convicted of murder and imprisoned for 32 years walked free after a Los Angeles court overturned his conviction.
Andrew Leander Wilson, 62, left the Men’s Central Jail on Thursday, greeted by family members, attorneys and members of Los Angeles’ Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent, the team that researched his case and persuaded prosecutors to acknowledge there were errors in the case against him.
Wilson maintained his innocence in a 1984 murder, and expressed no bitterness as he left the jail, instead thanking the students and lawyers who helped to free him. He called them his “sisters and brothers.”
Superior Court Judge Laura Priver ruled that Wilson was deprived of his right to a fair trial, vacating his conviction and ordering him released Wednesday. Information discovered by the law school team indicated the prosecution withheld key pieces of evidence regarding its main witness during his trial.
Wilson was arrested for the stabbing death of a man, 21, who was sleeping in a truck and accompanied by Saladena Bishop, the victim’s girlfriend. According to the Loyola team, Bishop picked Wilson out of a lineup only after a police officer suggested he may be the assailant; prior to Wilson’s trial, Bishop was regarded as an unreliable witness because she once falsely accused another person of kidnapping and attempted rape. A friend of Bishop’s also revealed to a trial prosecutor that Bishop stabbed her boyfriend in the past and was a likely suspect in his death. The Loyola team noted that neither fact was presented to Wilson’s defense attorney.
Catrina Burks, 42, Wilson’s daughter, told KCBS-TV, Los Angeles, as she awaited her father’s release, “It’s so surreal. I’m ready for him to come out of those doors, and just … this be all over with. He didn’t do it, and I know he didn’t do it, and he’s missed out on a lot because of this whole thing.”
Wilson said he plans to travel to St. Louis to visit his mother, Margie Davis, 96.