Dozens Turn Out for Breakfast for the Innocent
On the morning of February 28th, the Law Offices of Jerry Berry hosted a breakfast event benefiting the Innocence Project of Florida (IPF). The morning provided an opportunity for leaders from the business and legal communities in Naples to learn more about our work and hear from Florida’s 13th DNA exoneree, Derrick Williams.
Seth Miller, IPF’s executive director, opened the event by asking everyone to close their eyes and imagine the past 20 years of their life – college, career and family – and then imagine that it was suddenly and completely wiped away with a wrongful conviction. This is what happens to every person who is wrongfully convicted. This is what happened to Derrick Williams, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1993 for a crime he did not commit. On April 4, 2011, after 18 years of incarceration, and five years of work by IPF, Derrick was released from Hardee Correctional Institute.
Derrick talked about his life during and after the wrongful conviction, the struggles he faces today, and his gratitude for his wife Evone’s patience and understanding. Derrick paused to wipe away the tears as he described the day after his release. It was at a family celebration at Red Lobster. When the food arrived, Derrick stopped and ate. And when he finished, he looked up to discover the others had barely touched their food. They were continuing to talk, enjoying the meal and each other’s company. It was then that he realized that he would no longer be told when to eat, what to eat and how long he had to eat. Simple choices that we take for granted every day; ones that Derrick had no control over for more than 18 years.
The Breakfast raised $10,000, which will allow IPF to find and free other innocent individuals like Derrick.
Many Thanks to Our Sponsors!
Hahn, Loeser & Parks, LLP
Cheffy, Passidomo, P.A.
Coleman, Hazzard & Taylor, P.A.
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
Law Offices of Jerry Berry, P.A.
Law Office of Shannon McFee, P.A.
Long, Murphy & Long, P.A.
McDonnell Trial Law
Roetzel & Andress