“I knew I was innocent, I didn’t commit any crimes,” Archie Williams said 37 years ago when he was first incarcerated. He had been accused in Louisiana for aggravated raped, aggravated battery, and attempted murder of a 31-year-old white woman. Three people testified that he was at home asleep at the time of the crime. When the trial was held, it was determined that none of the fingerprints from the scene were matches to Williams. The black man said, “I did not have the economic capacity to fight the state of Louisiana.”
The Innocence Project Supported Williams
More evidence came about – compelling DNA proof that did not match Williams. The Innocence Project in New York took on the case, and the prisoner was released in March 2019. This didn’t happen overnight. In reality, Williams contacted the group, asking for their help after 12 years of being sentenced. The Innocence Project understood the forensic evidence would help prove his innocence. However, the state fought them repeatedly by refusing to give them access to the case evidence. This included the fingerprints which had been collected at the crime scene. The state blocked its search for two decades. Commissioner Kimble was named to the bench eventually, and she ordered that the fingerprints be searched in the FBI database. Remarkably, within eight hours, the prints were matched to a serial assailant. Eight hours after 37 years! This proved Williams’ innocence.
Williams Had A Dream
While in prison, Archie Williams had a dream. He fantasized about singing on a huge stage for his audience. His goal was fulfilled last Wednesday when he was welcomed onto the stage of America’s Got Talent. He sang his heart out, and he moved and amazed the judges and the audience.
Judge Shaken By Williams And His Story
Simon Cowell, who can sometimes be quite harsh with contestants, was overwhelmed by Williams’s performance as well as his story. As a result, he has become an ambassador for the Innocence Project. He said he plans to do everything he can to bring about positive changes for Williams and others like him. Cowell said, “Archie’s performance is probably the most important in the history of “America has talent.” What happened to Archie is tragic. Archie’s story is a story of courage and hope.”
America’s Got Talent
During all of his years behind bars, the innocent man said he never let “his mind go to jail.” Williams had the dream of singing on the stage where America’s Got Talent is filmed. Last week he realized his dream. He was a sensation. The judge’s loved him. So did the audience, and many were in tears after he sang his song by Elton John, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” Williams waited 37 years to fulfill his dream – he may go on to win the show and then appear in Las Vegas. No matter what happens, Williams has definitely opened his door to many opportunities.
Archie Williams is just one, of hundreds of men and women, behind bars, for crimes they did not commit – we need to create many more “Innocence Projects” to set these innocent victims free.