Philadelphia police released a statement confirming that a wrongly convicted man who spent almost 30 years in prison before being released last year was killed at a funeral. The statement explained that Christopher Williams, 62, “suffered gunshot wounds to the head” at Mount Peace Cemetery on Friday.
He was taken to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after the shooting. In 1989, Williams was convicted in two different cases, consisting of a triple murder and the murder of Michael Haynesworth. Williams, as well as co-defendant Troy Coulston, were convicted of the Haynesworth killing in 1992.
A year later, Williams and co-defendant Theophalis Wilson were convicted of the triple murder. Philadelphia prosecutors pushed to dismiss the murder convictions against Williams in both cases after discovering compromised testimony. They also found exculpatory evidence that law enforcement knew about but never told defense lawyers, officials explained.
Williams was released only 22 months ago and was working as a carpenter. He planned on eventually starting his on business that would hire freed convicts. Williams’ attorney, Stuart Lev, discussed the sadness surrounding his death on Wednesday:
“It’s incredibly tragic. This guy went through decades in prison, 25 years on death row, for crimes that he did not commit, because the system failed. He kept fighting, and he wouldn’t give up. He just kept insisting that he keep trying different ways of fighting. Whether that was to keep his hopes up or that was just his own determination and perseverance, that’s what he did. He worked very hard with his lawyers to make sure his lawyers kept doing that, too.”
No arrests have been made. Additionally, a weapon has not yet been recovered.