Courts & Crime

Florida man, clear by DNA test, leaves prison after 18 years

HARDEE COUNTY — Derrick Williams started the day preparing for another court battle, but after a call from his attorney Williams realized he instead would be a free man, spending Tuesday at home in Palmetto, celebrating his son’s 29th birthday.

The last birthday they spent together was his son’s 11th.

Williams was suddenly released Monday after State Attorney Earl Moreland decided to end his fight to keep Williams in prison on a 1993 rape conviction. The 47-year-old man’s conviction was overturned last week after tests showed his DNA was not a match to DNA found on clothing the rapist wore.

Williams is the 13th DNA exonerate in Florida and the 268th individual to be exonerated through the use of DNA testing nationwide, according to the Florida Innocence Project, which has been representing Williams.

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