Innocent Man Released After 21 Years in Prison, Star Witness Confesses to Killing: 'I Can't Live With This on My Conscience'

John Miller (center) boards a bus to take him home after being released from prison after 21 years.
Screenshot: CNN

After 21 years behind bars, one Pennsylvania man will finally resume the life he left behind.

CNN reports that 44-year-old John Miller has been released from prison after David Williams, the star witness in a murder case that Miller was charged for, has confessed to committing the act himself.

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“I’m very happy and excited that after 21 years I’m finally being heard and that my innocence has reached the surface,” Miller said in a written statement. “I’m going home to my family. I’m overwhelmed, excited, and happy.”

From CNN:

Miller was convicted in 1997 for the October 1996 murder of Anthony Mullen during a robbery attempt outside the 30th Street Station, Philadelphia’s main railroad station, according to court records. Mullen had been shot to death. A jury convicted Miller of second-degree murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison.

David Williams was the witness who identified Miller as the killer, according to court records. Williams told police in exchange for leniency in another case that Miller had confessed to him that he killed Mullen, the court records show.

But here’s where things went left: Prior to Miller’s preliminary hearing, Williams recanted his statement and for more than a decade has confessed to being responsible for Mullin’s murder. In 2002, he even mailed a letter to Miller’s mother confirming her son’s innocence.

“I can’t live with this on my conscience. Your son had no knowledge of this crime,” he wrote, according to court records. “He wasn’t even there. I lied on him.”

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According to Miller’s attorney, Thomas Gallagher, 10 appeals were filed on Miller’s behalf and each of them was denied, even though eight years ago the Pennsylvania Innocence Project discovered evidence that Miller’s defense team previously had no access to.

Finally, on July 1, Miller was ordered to be released pending the district attorney’s decision on whether to retry him, which they declined to do.

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Now a free man, Miller had nothing but gratitude for his legal team.

“Without them, I don’t know what would have happened or where I would have been,” he said.

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About the author

Jay Connor

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.