Posts Tagged ‘Manatee County’


Press Release: IPF Client Andre Bryant Exonerated

Seth — October 01, 2015 @ 4:00 PM — Comments (0)

Andre Bryant, Innocence Project of Florida Client, Exonerated and Released

Bryant has Served Over 8 Years for a Robbery He Did Not Commit

Tallahassee, Florida—On Thursday, October 1, 2015, Andre Bryant was released from the Franklin Correctional Institution in Carrabelle, Florida following his exoneration for a 2006 armed robbery, which occurred at a Walgreen’s in Manatee County, Florida. On the same day, Twelfth Judicial Circuit Judge Diana Moreland vacated Bryant’s conviction and 30-year sentence, pursuant to a joint stipulation filed by the State Attorney and Bryant’s attorneys, paving the way for Bryant’s release.

“This is a great day for Andre and this outcome is a testament to his consistent belief that the truth of his innocence would eventually be known and lead to his freedom. Everyone at IPF is so pleased to reunite him with his family after this ordeal and are excited to work with him to ease his transition from wrongful incarceration back into free society,” said Seth Miller, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida and one of Bryant’s attorneys

On July 20, 2015, attorneys from the Innocence Project of Florida (“IPF”), along with local counsel Derek Byrd, filed an amended motion for postconviction relief, following the release of an investigative report on Bryant’s case by the Sarasota Herald Tribune. In the motion, IPF detailed the evidence already existing in the record demonstrating Bryant’s innocence and brought forward additional new evidence of innocence, including a recantation by one of the child victims who identified Bryant as the perpetrator and expert opinion that Bryant was not the perpetrator depicted on the newly enhanced Walgreen’s surveillance video at the time of the crime.

The State Attorney performed its own investigation into the case and determined that reasonable doubt existed as to Bryant’s involvement in the crime. Based on this conclusion, the State Attorney agreed to vacate the conviction and drop all charges against Bryant.

“The folks at the State Attorney’s Office, particularly assistant state attorney Bruce Lee, deserve tremendous credit for completely reviewing the evidence, old and new, and viewing it through an objective lens. We are thrilled that Mr. Brodsky and his team came to the same conclusion we had come to already: that justice demanded Andre Bryant’s conviction be vacated and that he be freed from his wrongful incarceration,” said Miller.

Bryant was convicted in 2007 primarily on eyewitness identifications by the victims. According to the Innocence Project of Florida, witness misidentification is the leading causes of wrongful convictions, contributing to 75% of the known exonerations nationwide. Bryant is the 57th exoneration in Florida since 1989, and IPF’s second Manatee County, Florida client exonerated in four years. Derrick Williams was exonerated of a 1993 Manatee County rape in 2011, after DNA testing proved he did not commit the crime.

The Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to finding and freeing innocent people in Florida prisons. IPF, along with local counsel Derek Byrd represent Andre Bryant. IPF’s website is www.FloridaInnocence.org.

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IPF Video Blog for August 2010

Michelle — August 02, 2010 @ 11:31 PM — Comments (6)

As the IPF staff works to keep you up-to-date on the latest happenings at the office and in the courtroom, one of the informational materials to be released monthly is our video blog.  In our first video blog of this year, IPF Executive Director Seth Miller speaks about IPF’s most recent efforts in the case of Derrick Williams.  Also joined by exoneree Jamie Bain, the Innocence Project of Florida held a press conference in Bradenton, FL on July 27, 2010 in which the family members of Williams spoke about how his wrongful conviction has affected their lives.  Seth goes into detail about the evidence at hand and explains how and why DNA testing proves that Williams is innocent.

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More News Clippings on Derrick Williams

Seth — July 29, 2010 @ 10:05 AM — Comments (1)

Here are some straggler news articles on Derrick Williams:

Family Rallies to Proclaim Palmetto Convict’s Innocence (With Video) (Bradenton Herald)

Press Conference Photo Gallery (Bradenton Herald)

Inmate’s Case Puts Focus on Flawed System (Miami Herald)

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DNA Testing Demonstrates Derrick Williams is Innocent

Tabby — July 27, 2010 @ 8:00 AM — Comments (4)


DNA Testing Demonstrates Derrick Williams is Innocent:

Williams has Served Over 17 Years for a Rape he Did Not Commit; Attorneys Call for Immediate Release

Bradenton, Florida—On Monday, July 26, 2010, DNA Diagnostics Center, a nationally recognized forensic laboratory in Fairfield, Ohio, issued a report in the case of State of Florida v. Derrick Williams, which demonstrates Williams’ actual innocence of an August 1993 kidnapping and rape in Palmetto, Manatee County, Florida.

Upon an agreement by Williams’ attorneys at the Innocence Project of Florida and the State Attorney, the court ordered DNA testing on the t-shirt worn by the assailant before the rape and left in the victim’s car at the end of the crime. The testing excludes Derrick Williams as the donor of the DNA on the inside of the collar of the assailant’s t-shirt, confirming that someone other than Williams raped the victim and left the t-shirt in her car.  “After over 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, the State should do the right thing and release this innocent man immediately,” said Williams’ attorney, Melissa Montle, staff attorney for the Innocence Project of Florida (IPF).

At Williams’ trial, the State made the assailant’s t-shirt the central piece of physical evidence against Williams, even though there was an indication even before trial that the shirt may have belonged to someone else.  Before trial, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determined that a “Negroid” hair found on the t-shirt could not have come from Williams.  Williams was convicted when the jury failed to believe that scientific evidence or his unrefuted alibi evidence given by six different witnesses (he was at a family barbeque); instead relying on the inconsistent and contradictory eyewitness identification by the victim. “Today’s DNA results demonstrate conclusively that the victim was mistaken about who raped her and that Derrick is innocent,” said Montle.

According to the Innocence Project of Florida, witness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions, contributing to 75% of the 255 wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA testing nationwide.

Other important physical evidence, including the victim’s rape kit and the foreign “Negroid” hair from the assailant’s t-shirt, were improperly stored and unlawfully incinerated by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office (MSO) in late 2003.  Internal MSO memos indicate that, as early as 1996, leadership at MSO was made aware of poor climate control and mold issues in one of its storage facilities.  Yet it never made any effort to move the evidence, examine it, or determine whether any pieces of evidence were salvageable.  Instead, the evidence in the case of Derrick Williams and nearly 4,000 other criminal cases was summarily destroyed by mass incineration.

MSO denied the evidence damage and destruction to the press.  It never informed defendants or defense attorneys in these cases about the destruction. The mass destruction was only revealed through the vigorous eighteen-month investigation of the Williams case by the Innocence Project of Florida.  “The State simply threw away important evidence in Derrick William’s case and in thousands of other cases, and then pretended like it never happened.  We now know that Derrick is innocent.  How many others will never get the chance to prove their innocence because of this debacle?” said Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida.

For his part, Derrick Williams has been a model citizen in the Florida prison system.  During his wrongful incarceration, he earned a GED and was an inmate supervisor for Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE) refurbishing Department of Corrections vehicles and fire trucks for first responders nationwide.  When informed of the results, Williams said, “It makes me extremely happy that it’s finally coming to an end.  The results prove what I have said all along—I am innocent.”

The Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to finding and freeing innocent people in Florida prisons. IPF represents Derrick Williams for free, including all costs associated with DNA testing and litigation.  IPF’s website is www.FloridaInnocence.org.

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