After spending almost a dozen years behind bars after being wrongfully convicted in 1994, Cedric Willis has reportedly died as a result of gun violence near his home in Jackson, Mississippi.
Since his exoneration and release in 2006 thanks to the work of the Innocence Project, he had dedicated his life to helping others as a motivational speaker in schools and other settings, sharing details of his own experience, as reported by CNN.
He was sentenced to life behind bars plus 90 years for a string of violent crimes, based largely on the testimony of victims and eyewitnesses — despite the fact that those descriptions clearly differed from Willis’ actual appearance.
The Jackson Police Department indicated Willis was just two blocks from his residence on June 24 when someone shot and killed him, as reported by the Mississippi Clarion Leader. Additional information about a possible motive or suspect were not immediately available.
His mother, Elaine Willis, said investigators told her the case remains open, noting that she has yet to receive many details.
“The only thing I know for certain is my son is dead,” she said. “He left home and he didn’t come back. I don’t know what, why — I don’t know anything.”
“They knew they had the wrong man and they prosecuted him anyway,” asserted Innocence Project New Orleans attorney Emily Maw.
She said she’d seen Willis three weeks before his death and noted that “things seemed to be going so well for him.”
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[Featured image: video screenshot]