LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andrew Leander Wilson, a broad smile on his face and no bitterness in his heart, clasped hands with his family on his first day of freedom Thursday after spending 32 years in prison for a murder he denied committing.

Wilson, 62, was released from the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail downtown into a sea of cameras and cheers and applause from university law students who worked to free him.

“This is unbelievable. This is unbelievable,” Wilson said.

Wilson maintained his innocence since his arrest in 1984 for the stabbing death of Christopher Hanson, 21, in Los Angeles.

A day earlier, Superior Court Judge Laura Priver ordered Wilson released after prosecutors conceded he did not get a fair trial.

Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent, which fought for Wilson’s release, pointed to numerous due-process violations.

“It’s been a nightmare but I survived and got to the end of the road,” Wilson said.

Wearing a red Loyola shirt, Wilson held hands with his sister and daughter. His 15-year-old granddaughter was by their sides.

Wilson said he holds no bitterness because that would be “a waste of time.”

“Believe it or not, I think I’m all right upstairs,” he said, drawing laughter from his family members.

“I still have a parent,” Wilson’s daughter, Catrina Burks, 43, of Muskegon, Michigan.

“It’s been a long 32 years and I’m glad that it’s over…I stayed hopeful all the way,” said Gwen Wilson, 49, of Inglewood, California.

She was 14 when her brother was sent to prison.

“It was scary because it is my brother and he would never come back; that’s what I thought in the moment,” she said.

Asked what he thought of his prosecutor, he said, “I’m past it. I just want to go get something to eat right now and love my family.”

If he didn’t eat soon, “I’m going to eat my shoes,” Wilson joked.

Wilson will travel as soon as he can to St. Louis to visit his 96-year-old mother, Margie Davis, who was a tireless advocate for his innocence over the decades, according to his lawyer, Paula Mitchell.

Mitchell said before the hearing that numerous due-process violations recently came to light that showed Wilson did not receive a fair trial.

She pointed particularly to a weeks-long delay before police began canvassing for suspects with Hanson’s girlfriend, Saladena Bishop, who was 17 at the time. Bishop was the prosecution’s only eyewitness.

Among missteps by the prosecution was the suppression of evidence that Bishop previously filed a false police report accusing another man of rape, according to court papers filed by Mitchell and other attorneys with Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent.

The district attorney’s office said it would not retry Wilson. Another hearing was set for May 3 to begin the process to determine whether he is factually innocent, which could lead to compensation claims.

PHOTO: AP

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15 thoughts on “Wrongfully Convicted California Man Freed After 32 Years

  1. americanize on said:

    I would be fu*kin pissed,the man served a life sentence I would wish ill will on that fu*kin prosecuter.Another day in the life of a black man in America.

  2. sweety on said:

    God Bless him he knew the man he serve is an on time god and he kept his faith and believe in god hands and also his law students who pave the way for him thank god he can see his mom and family who stuck by him from day one I am so so happy for him and he should receive some kind of compensation for the years he done for no reason and the person that lied should go to jail and feel the way he was feeling when he was sitting behind bars

    • He was released because of suppression of evidence and malfeasance on the part of the police. If he is retried and found not guilty, he will be eligible for compensation and expunction of all charges. If he is not retried and is unable to prove actual innocence, it’s highly unlikely he will be compensated for the time he spent in prison.

  3. Why did it take 32 yrs to be found innocent? That’s the justice system in this prejudice country. No just in us. I hope he get some kind of compensation for being wrongfully imprisoned. Some states do not allow financial compensation, which is sad in itself.

  4. specialt757 on said:

    32 years served is more than a life sentence, just what was his sentence? He could never get this time back. It doesn’t even matter if he was guilty or not, he already did the time. I like his spirit, he’s not angry because that’s a waste of time, he now gets to spend the rest of his life with people who love and fought for him. Good luck Mr. Wilson.

  5. Amber on said:

    This is why I do not get upset when people with money fight and win their cases especially when the evidence prove they are innocent. When you do not have money, any kind of verdict can be thrown at you.

    • specialt757 on said:

      True. You get the defense you can afford. Our justice system is not justice for all, it’s justice for whoever can afford it.

  6. Cyndi on said:

    Wow! Such a sad and joyous story in one. I will be praying for Wilson, as his journey is just beginning. I can’t even begin to imagine what being locked up for 32 years does to a persons psyche…Much love to him, his family and those who worked tirelessly to get him out.

  7. Janaline on said:

    I Wish Mr. Wilson the BeST! However, having INCARCERATED a Innocent Man FOR 32Yrs!!! Means They Have Also, KILLED/EXECUTED a INNOCENCE Person! In Both Cases, it is TRAGIC!!!~Peace

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