Wrongful 32-Year Prison Term Ends

Image Andrew Leander Wilson speaks to the public and media March 16, 2017, after a judge ordered him released from prison.

After spending more than 32 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit, Andrew Leander Wilson, a client of the Loyola Law School’s Los Angeles Project for the Innocent (LPI), was released Thursday, March 16, 2017, from L.A.’s Men’s Central Jail.

Wilson was ordered released a day earlier at a hearing conducted by Judge Laura Priver, who found that Wilson’s constitutional rights had been violated as a result of the prosecution’s withholding of exculpatory evidence and unreliability of eyewitness testimony by the only witness. The hearing came as a result of more than two years of legal work by LPI attorneys and students, who conducted interviews and drafted court filings to help substantiate the violations.

During the hearing, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office announced it no longer had confidence in Wilson’s conviction. The D.A.’s office has stated it will not re-try Wilson, who was originally arrested on Dec. 2, 1984, for a murder that allegedly occurred on Oct. 23, 1984.

“Numerous due process violations that recently came to light show conclusively that Mr. Wilson did not receive a fair trial,” said Paula Mitchell, legal director of the Loyola Law School Los Angeles Project for the Innocent and counsel for Wilson. “Mr. Wilson has maintained his innocence from the day he was arrested in 1984. He has never wavered and never stopped fighting to prove his innocence.”

Students and attorneys working with the law school’s Project for the Innocent welcomed Wilson when he regained his freedom.

Wilson, 62, plans to return to St. Louis, where he will spend time with his mother, Margie Davis, who will turn 97 on May 1, and who has doggedly advocated on behalf of her son since the day he was arrested.

“Mrs. Davis’s commitment to seeing her son released from prison and exonerated is truly remarkable. She has been right by his side every step along the way for the last 32 years,” said Adam Grant, program director of the Project for the Innocent.

Brian Costello is assistant director of Marketing and Communications at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He earned earned a J.D. degree from the law school in 2012 and is a member of the State Bar of California.