Springfield Man Free After Years in Prison for Crime He Didn’t Commit

A young African American man from Springfield could have spent the rest of his life in prison for a murder in Springfield that he did not commit. Instead, Charles Wilhite was freed on January 17 after a jury trial. He spent 40 months in prison for a crime he did not do. Last year in Springfield, about 500 people attended a rally to free Wilhite, according to his aunt, Viraphanh Douangmany of Amherst. The rally was organized by a group she founded: www.JusticeForCharles.org.

A key witness for the state recanted his earlier testimony identifying Wilhite as the killer. Nathan Perez, the witness, said his false testimony had been coerced by the police.

“Charles is innocent,” Douangmany told the Valley Post on December 14, 2012.

As of 2000, there were about 200,000 wrongfully convicted people in prison in the U.S. That's according to the book “Actual Innocence” by New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer and two other authors.

In the USA, 302 prisoners have been proven innocent using DNA. These people served an average of 13 years in prison before being freed. Seventeen of the people who were freed had been sentenced to death but were freed before the government could execute them. This data is from www.InnocenceProject.org.

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