On September 30, 2015, Judge Joseph Crosswhite entered an order setting aside the 2002 conviction of Larry Jerome Williams, Jr., declaring Mr. Williams and two co-defendants to be innocent of the charges brought against them for a shooting death that occurred in the Fairview community of Buncombe County back in 2000. [Read the Order here.]
Mr. Williams was 16 years old when he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, carrying the possibility of punishment by death. He was held in jail for many months and was repeatedly interrogated by Buncombe County law enforcement on eight (8) separate occasions. One interrogation session of Mr. Williams was conducted by the former elected sheriff, Bobby Medford – who was later convicted of corruption (unrelated to the 2000 homicide case) and is now serving time in federal prison. Mr. Williams – then a juvenile facing the possibility of life imprisonment or even death for a crime he did not commit – was ultimately bullied into pleading guilty.
As a result of the misconduct of law enforcement and breakdown of our justice system, Mr. Williams spent almost 9 years in the North Carolina prison system. He was finally released on September 9, 2009, at the age of 25.
In April of 2014, Attorneys of Cloninger, Barbour, Searson & Jones, PLLC, together with lawyers representing the co-defendants of Mr. Williams, filed a Motion for Appropriate Relief for Mr. Williams in Buncombe County case number 00-CRS-65085. The full story is set out in that motion. [Read motion here.]
Upon the announcement of Judge Crosswhite’s decision in the courtroom, Mr. Williams told a local news reporter, “I’m just overwhelmed . . . . This makes me believe in the justice system when it is used in the right way, and not using it just to close a case.”