County Circuit Judge Tomie T. Green dismissed murder and armed robbery
charges against Willis after District Attorney Faye Peterson made the
"No one wants an innocent person in prison," Green said.
New Orleans chapter of the Innocence Project, a national, nonprofit
legal-aid clinic organization that has exonerated five wrongfully
convicted Louisiana inmates, was instrumental in reopening Willis' case.
was charged in 1994 and convicted in 1997 of shooting Carl White Jr.
and robbing White's wife, Gloria, and daughter, Jamilla, at their home
at 3570 Michael Clay Drive.
White died six days later. Willis was sentenced to life in prison.
the Innocence Project took on Willis’ case in May 2005, Emily Maw of
the New Orleans Innocence Project said jurors never heard evidence that
the gun used in the homicide and robbery also had been used in four
cases, including an armed robbery and rape.
Willis also was indicted on the armed robbery and rape charges. A DNA
test excluded him in the rape, Maw said.
Prosecutors dropped the rape and armed robbery charges, but jurors
never heard that those charges were dropped, Maw said.
“This struck us as particularly unfair,”
That excluded evidence could have given jurors reason to doubt Willis’
guilt, Maw said.
New Orleans Innocence Project has exonerated five wrongfully
convicted Louisiana inmates. The national Innocence Project, founded in
1992 at a New York City law school, has exonerated 158