William Nieves was sentenced to death in 1994 and exonerated in 2000
William Nieves was sentenced to death for the murder of a man with whom he allegedly was involved in drug distribution in Philadlephia.
A police officer saw a bearded Hispanic man driving away in a Cadillac. The officer interviewed witnesses at the scene, but none identified the killer or offered a detailed description.
Some time later, however, one of the witnesses the officer had interviewed came forward and claimed she had seen Nieves step out of a Cadillac and shoot the victim.
The conviction rested on her testimony, corroborated by the police officer's sighting of a Cadillac at the scene.
On direct appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated Nieves's death sentence and ordered a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. In further discovery, Nieves's new counsel discovered police documents disclosing the existence of a credible eyewitness who indicated the crime was committed by someone else.
Nieves was acquitted. Nieves is Hispanic, the victim Caucasian.