Innocence Blog

DNA testing leads to actual perpetrator in Georgia case

Posted: February 12, 2007



Willie “Pete” Williams served 21 years in prison before DNA testing, obtained by his attorneys at the Georgia Innocence Project, proved his innocence. Those same DNA results have now led police to another man, Kenneth Wicker, who has been arrested and charged with the 1985 rape for which Williams was convicted.

Wicker pled guilty to similar crimes in 1985 and was presented as an alternate suspect by Williams’ lawyers in a 1986 appeal. The victim had picked Williams out of a photo lineup, however, and said she was 120 percent certain he was the perpetrator.

Williams' attorney at the time, Michael Schumacher, said Friday the April 1985 attacks were not linked to Wicker because authorities were already locked in on Williams as a suspect.

Schumacher even brought up the Wicker assaults in a 1986 hearing while trying to get his client a new trial. That hearing, where the attorney even had brought Wicker into the courtroom, most likely laid the groundwork that led to Wicker's arrest Friday.

"There's no way he'd be arrested now without that," Schumacher said. "I laid the trail of crumbs for someone else to come and pick up."

There are eerie similarities in looking at police reports from the time….
Williams was accused of raping a woman April 5, 1985, and attempting to rape another five days later. He was arrested April 28, 1985.

"But the attacks continued with the same M.O., down to the same words — he asked the victims about 'Carol,' " Schumacher said.

Read the full story. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 02/10/07, Payment required for full article)
Williams has not been officially exonerated yet – he is awaiting a court hearing that will officially clear his record. Check back here for updates.

More on this case: 

Learn more about eyewitness misidentification in our Understand The Causes section.




Tags: Georgia, Willie Williams