Although he always maintained his innocence, Andrew Wilson spent 32 years languishing behind bars on murder charges. But on Wednesday, a Los Angeles judge ordered him free “as soon as possible” after prosecutors concluded that he did not get a “fundamentally fair trial.”
Wilson, now 62, was convicted of the 1984 robbery and stabbing death of Christopher Hanson, a 21-year-old man who had a disorder which prevented his blood from clotting. However, Deputy Dist. Atty. Etty Jerez cedes that “cumulative errors” were made at the time. Legal experts asserted that such errors included poor witness identification, failure to turn over impeachment evidence and officers pressuring witnesses to adhere to a certain agenda.
“Numerous due process violations that recently came to light show conclusively that Mr. Wilson did not receive a fair trial,” his attorney, Paula Mitchell, told reporters following the trial. “Mr. Wilson is elated. He is so glad this is finally over.”
The district attorney’s office does not intend to refile charges against Wilson, but in a letter to the Judge last week made it “explicitly clear” that while they believe the record shows Wilson was “denied a fundamentally fair trial,” the office does not believe he is “factually innocent.”
A hearing is slated for early May to determine whether Wilson is factually innocent, a classification he would require to receive financial compensation from the state of California.
But in the meantime, Wilson – who was expected to be released from Men’s Central Jail Thursday – plans first and foremost to visit his 96-year-old mother Margie Davis in St. Louis. For three decades, Davis wrote letters to an array of media outlets and authorities insisting her son was unlawfully convicted.
“I knew that he was innocent all along,” she told the L.A Times following Wednesday’s hearing. “It’s no news to me.”