Exonerated After 17 Years on Death Row
This morning, Democracy Now! aired an interview with Harold Wilson, a man who was recently released from prison after spending 17 years on death row. He was convicted of three murders in 1989. In 1999, his death sentence was overturned due to ineffective counsel. However, his murder convictions were not - and he remained on death row. On October 31st, 2005, Wilson's final trial began and DNA evidence was presented for the first time. On November 15th, he was acquitted of all charges and set free with 65 cents, a bus token and the clothes on his back.
Wilson was originally prosecuted by former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Jack McMahon. In 1997, the courts began examining Philadelphia's jury selection process after McMahon's role in a training tape was revealed. That year, District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who was in a tight re-election campaign with McMahon, released a training video showing McMahon instructing colleagues to keep poor blacks off juries saying they were less likely to convict.Here are excerpts from the interview:
In 2003 a trial court granted Wilson a new trial after it found that McMahon had used racial bias to eliminate black jurors.
AMY GOODMAN: You used the law library?The interview will be repeated many times throughout the day. If you get a chance, check it out. At the end of the interivew, Harold says he wants to buy his mom a coat for Christmas. I'm sure he would appreciate a small donation or even an e-greeting:
HAROLD WILSON: I would stand up. We had to fight for the law library on death row.
AMY GOODMAN: The guards would have to take you there?
HAROLD WILSON: Yes, you had to be escorted. Any movement was -- you were subject to escort by two officers, and you were cuffed in the back, and it was to the discretion of the officers whether to cuff you in the back or cuff you in the front or use shackles and leg irons. Those were left to the discretion of the officer. But yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: And how did the officers treat you as you were taken to the law library to build and challenge your case?
HAROLD WILSON: Well, most of them -- let's put it like this: They always appointed my escorts to be the most racist.
Here's his contact info:
Harold C. Wilson
PO Box 19709
Philadelphia PA 19143