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Man Killed During Funeral Had Been Exonerated Of Murder After Being On Death Row For 25 Years
Christopher Williams was driving in a funerary procession for another formerly incarcerated man when he was shot in the head near Mount Peace Cemetery in Philadelphia.
A Philadelphia man, who served 25 years on death row before he was exonerated of four murders, was shot and killed while attending a funeral on Friday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Christopher Williams, 62, was driving in a funeral procession for another formerly incarcerated man, Tyree Little, when he was shot in the head after getting out of his car near Mount Peace Cemetery, the Inquirer reported. No arrests have been made in the shooting.
The father of six came home from prison in February 2021, after he was also acquitted of two more murder accusations involving a jailhouse informant, the newspaper reported.
“Never in the history of the Pennsylvania judicial system has someone been charged with six murders — acquitted of two and now exonerated of four,” he said when released, according to the Inquirer.
The District Attorney’s Office said in court filings obtained by the Inquirer that the case was “built on a house of cards” involving false jailhouse informant testimony, extensive undisclosed evidence and forensic evidence that directly contradicted the informant’s story.
“The basic structure underpinning the conviction was built on the unscrupulous behavior of several bad actors,” the DA’s office said, according to the Inquirer.
Williams’ sister told the newspaper he aspired to start his own construction company and create a re-entry program for others leaving prison.
“He was a soldier, a trooper, a champion for justice,” Terrace Lewis, another recently exonerated man, told the Inquirer. “He was still learning how to give back. His life just began, and it was taken from him.”
Williams’ youngest son, Christopher Hartwell, said his father maintained their relationship while on death row.
“He was the man of the family even when he wasn’t here, when he was in jail,” Hartwell told the newspaper. “He touched everybody he talked to. Speaking on the year and eight months I had him out here, he taught me how to be a better man. He helped me be a better father myself.”
In December 2021, Williams filed a lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, 17 police detectives or their estates, two former assistant district attorneys and former district attorney Lynne Abraham for his wrongful convictions, according to Philadelphia NBC station WCAU. That lawsuit is still pending.