Walter McMillian

Walter McMillian at Northwestern Law in December 2002 (Photo: Mary Hanlon)

Walter McMillian at Northwestern Law in December 2002 (Photo: Mary Hanlon)

Walter McMillian was sentenced to death in Monroe County in 1988 and was exonerated in 1993

Walter McMillian was sentenced to death for the murder of a store clerk during a robbery in Monroe County, Alabama.

The case, which was tried in Baldwin County on a change of venue, rested on the testimony of a career criminal who, while being questioned as a suspect in the murder, placed McMillian at the scene of the crime. Eventually, the three witnesses who had testified against McMillian admitted that they had lied.

In addition, it became clear that the prosecution had hidden exculpatory evidence, including the existence of a witness who had seen the victim alive after the time at which the prosecution contended the crime had occurred.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the case, prosecutors dropped the charges and acknowledged that the case had been bungled. McMillian's exoneration resulted from pro bono efforts of attorney Bryan Stevenson, of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama.

McMillian is African American, the victim was Caucasian.


— Rob Warden