Clifford Willams Jr. and Hubert Nathan Myers
In the early morning hours of May 2, 1976, Clifford and his nephew Hubert, were at a friend’s birthday party in Jacksonville, Florida. It was supposed to be a fun occasion, and neither of the men expected the night to change their lives forever.
The party was interrupted by the sound of gunshots. The people at the part ran outside to see what was going on. Clifford and Hubert were among the curious guests. The gunshots came from a double shooting where one woman named Jeannette Williams, was killed instantly after being shot several times. Her partner, Nina Marshall, was shot six times, but somehow, she was able to escape from the home flag down a car. When the shooting occurred, the two women were in bed sleeping. They also knew Clifford and Hubert.
When Nina got to the hospital, she told the police that she thought she knew who killed her girlfriend. She said that Clifford and Hubert were often at her apartment, and she was sure that they were the ones who shot her and her girlfriend. The police arrested the uncle and nephew that same night.
Before Clifford was arrested, he had a few run-ins with the law. He was known to be a heroin dealer, and he ran a pool hall that he hired Hubert to manage. Nina had demons of her own. She was a known drug user and worked in the sex industry. She was also known to swindle dealers. She denied these accusations and said that the reason the two men shot her was over unpaid rent.
Two months after the shooting, the two men were on trial for the murder of Jeannette, and the attempted murder of Nina. During the trial, Nina claimed that Clifford and Hubert entered the apartment that the two women shared before storming into their bedroom. She said that the two men started shooting and didn’t stop until the guns had no more bullets. She says that she was sure that the uncle and nephew had committed the crime. The first trial ended in a mistrial.
The second trial didn’t go the way that the two men expected. Hubert’s lawyer chose not to issue an opening statement, which was detrimental to their case. Also, neither lawyer presented any witnesses or evidence to help prove their clients’ innocence. The lawyers hoped that cross-examination would be enough to for the jury to find the two men not guilty. All the lawyers needed to do was prove that Nina’s identification o the two men
The lawyers should have mentioned the fact that both men had an alibi for the time of the crime. They were both at a birthday party where 45 guests were present. Many of them remembered Clifford and Hubert as being part of the group that ran outside to see where the shots were coming from. These witnessed were never brought to court, and the physical evidence from the crime scene was never presented in court.
The trial lasted just two days, and the jury found both men guilty. They were sentenced to life in prison. What’s worse was that Clifford was sentenced to death. He was only 34-years-old at the time of his conviction, and Hubert was only 18. The two men planned to appeal the conviction, and later, Clifford’s death sentenced was changed to life in prison. Both men knew that they were innocent, and what was happening to them wasn’t right.
Years after the two men were found guilty of a crime they didn’t commit; new evidence came to light. The Tallahassee Regional Crime Lab determined that the bullets used in the shooting came from one gun, which made it impossible for there to have been two shooters. Also, the evidence showed that the shooting took place outside the apartment into the bedroom window. The window was broken, and there were bullet holes in the curtain and the screen. Nina’s testimony was wrong. Finally, a man named Nathaniel Lawson claimed responsibility for the shooting to friends, but he died in 1994 before he could be investigated for the crime.
The Innocence Project Of Florida
Even though this evidence was presented during appeals, the courts refused to turn over the men’s convictions. Finally, the Innocence Project of Florida got involved. They believed there was enough evidence to turn over the convictions, and they were going to fight for Clifford and Hubert. Finally, thanks to their hard work, the Innocence Project had the conviction overturned. The charges were going to be dropped. After spending 42 years locked up for murder, two Florida men wiped away tears in court. They were finally free men. The world had changed a lot while the men were in jail, yet they were just thankful to be free.