Man cleared of murder walks free after 28 years in prison

National

Theophalis Wilson, with friends and family behind him, walks out of the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, after being exonerated for a triple murder that took place when he was 17 years old, for which he served 21 years in prison. (Jessica Griffin/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man who served nearly three decades in prison for a triple killing in Philadelphia in what prosecutors called a “perfect storm” of injustice was freed after a judge threw out his conviction.

“Theophalis Wilson, you are free to go,” Judge Tracy Brandeis-Roman said Tuesday as extended family and friends who packed the courtroom cried and hugged each other, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“This is a great day,” said Wilson, 48, who served 28 years in prison. “Now we’ve got to go back and get the other guys. There’s a lot of innocent people in jail.”

“It’s a beautiful day,” said his mother, Kim Wilson. “I just thank God it finally happened.”

Wilson was exonerated a month after his co-defendant, Christopher Williams, was cleared of the three 1989 killings. Wilson was a teenager when he was accused of participating in the slayings of Otis Reynolds and brothers Kevin and Gavin Anderson in north Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia district attorney’s office called the case a “perfect storm” of injustice, writing in a court filing that the case was marred by serious misconduct by the prosecution, an ineffective defense and a witness who supplied false testimony.

The witness who testified against Wilson and Williams recanted, saying he had provided false testimony in exchange for a deal to escape the death penalty and in hopes of eventual release. At a 2013 hearing, forensic specialists testified that physical evidence contradicted his earlier account of events.

Williams remains imprisoned on a life sentence in a fourth murder, a 1989 slaying in which he and another man were convicted but in which both have maintained their innocence.

Wilson is the 12th person exonerated by the prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit. Unit chief Patricia Cummings said in court that it was time for Wilson to be allowed to “go home a free man, and that he go home with an apology.”

“No words can express what we put these people through. What we put Mr. Wilson through. What we put his family through,” she said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Special Olympics: Athlete Spotlight

Special Olympics powerlifters get ready for competition

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics powerlifters get ready for competition"

Special Olympics Cross Country Skiing

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics Cross Country Skiing"

Special Olympics Basketball

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics Basketball"

Special Olympics Michigan Area 36 2020 U.P. Winter Games

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics Michigan Area 36 2020 U.P. Winter Games"

Special Olympics: Downhill Ski

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics: Downhill Ski"

Special Olympics Figure Skating

Thumbnail for the video titled "Special Olympics Figure Skating"

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics

Thumbnail for the video titled "Polar Plunge for Special Olympics"

Latest News Video

Cooking With Alex: Potato Salad Part Two

Thumbnail for the video titled "Cooking With Alex: Potato Salad Part Two"

Cooking With Alex: Potato Salad Part One

Thumbnail for the video titled "Cooking With Alex: Potato Salad Part One"

GAME OF THE WEEK: Negaunee tops Westwood in Mid-Pen clash; Leece reaches 1k

Thumbnail for the video titled "GAME OF THE WEEK: Negaunee tops Westwood in Mid-Pen clash; Leece reaches 1k"

Precious Metals 2-21-2020

Thumbnail for the video titled "Precious Metals 2-21-2020"

Stocks 2-21-2020

Thumbnail for the video titled "Stocks 2-21-2020"

LOCAL 3 SUNDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST 2/23/2020

Thumbnail for the video titled "LOCAL 3 SUNDAY'S WEATHER FORECAST 2/23/2020"