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22nd Dec 2022

Man who wrongly spent 25 years on death row is shot and killed after being released

Charlie Herbert

He was killed while taking part in a funeral procession

A 62-year-old man who wrongly spent more than third of his life on death row was shot dead less than two years after being released from prison.

In February 2021, Christopher Williams walked free from prison holding a file containing the two signed warrants for his execution.

Williams had been charged with six murders, serving nearly three decades in prison, 25 of which were on death row.

Eventually he was exonerated in four cases and acquitted twice.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the district attorney’s office said the case against Williams had been “built on a house of cards.”

They said the murder cases against Williams had included false testimony and that there was plenty of undisclosed evidence in the trial, condemning him to years behind bars as he awaited execution.

Williams had been imprisoned from the age of 29 to 61, spending 25 of those years on death row.

Christopher Williams spent a quarter of a century on death row (Twitter/@LEBenshoff)

After being freed last year, he worked as a carpenter and was in the process of seeking compensation against the state of Pennsylvania for his false imprisonment.

However, at around 2:20pm on Friday 16 December, he was shot once in the head as he stepped out of a car at Mount Peace Cemetery while taking part in a funeral procession for a formerly imprisoned man.

Williams was taken to Temple University Hospital but was pronounced dead around half an hour after being shot. He passed away just 22 months after being released from prison.

No arrests have yet been made and a motive for his killing is not yet known.

Williams also spent his months after being freed advocating for the situations of other prisoners he believed had been wrongly convicted and were stuck in prison for crimes he thought they had not committed.

The 62-year-old had hoped to start his own program to help former prisoners re-enter society once they had walked free.

Recently exonerated man Terrance Lewis said the 62-year-old had been a ‘champion for justice’ who had been “learning how to give back” when he was killed.

His son Christopher Hartwell said his father “taught me how to be a better man” and “helped me be a better father myself”.

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