ATLANTA — A man spent nearly three years in jail for a crime he says he did not commit. He also never stood trial.
Kenneth Williams says he sat in the Fulton County Jail for a few months short of three years, but he kept praying, kept believing and kept in contact with his lawyer and pastor.
Williams said sometimes he wanted to break down but didn’t because he knew his truth.
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The judge who issued the order told Channel 2′s investigative reporter Mark Winne that every person accused of a crime has a right to a speedy trial.
“I just sat there Feb. 7 and I just prayed I could be home before the Super Bowl and thirty minutes later I heard my named called,” Williams said. “A deputy said, ‘Mr. Williams, you’re free to go.’ I left there 9:30 at night and the first person I saw my 87-year-old mama sittin’ right there. Stood with me for three years.”
Williams says those three years were a life-changing experience — all for crimes he didn’t commit.
“I don’t even know what happened,” Williams said. “I’m an innocent man.”
A May 2019 indictment accused Williams and two other men of armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of firearm by convicted felon.
Williams said he had never seen the men in his life.
“Tell us about getting arrested,” Winne asked Williams.
“It was a shocking surprise to me,” Williams said.
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But a court order last month said the state does not believe it has enough evidence to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial and no longer desires to prosecute Williams.
The court then granted the state’s request for something called a “Nolle Prosse.”
Williams’ defense attorney Kalpin Shah told Winne “Nolle Prosse” means the prosecution is no longer pursuing the case.
“There was certainly enough evidence for probable cause on the part of the police, but the job of a district attorney is to make sure that you have enough evidence to convict someone beyond a reasonable doubt. And in the case of Mr. Williams that evidence simply was not here,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said.
Shah said there’d been a series of cigarette delivery robberies, but Williams was only accused in one, and that a relative’s SUV had been used in that one.
Police claimed his alibi didn’t hold up, but the defense has answers for both.
Shah said there were three prosecutors on the case, four judges and plus the COVID-19 pandemic. But he believes a new administration headed by Willis was instrumental.
“I think Ms. Willis has the right intentions at heart,” Shah said.
Judge Paige Reese Whitaker told Winne she let both sides know her concern about the length of time the case was taking.
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When the state said that it could not prove the case with the evidence it had and no longer desired to move forward, there was no longer any basis to hold Williams in jail, and Whitaker immediately signed the order the state had requested, ending the prosecution.
The state can bring the case back if it secures additional evidence.
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