Meet the Exonerees

Cedric Willis

State: Mississippi
Date of Birth: 27548
Incident Date: 06/16/1994
Age at Arrest: 19
Conviction Date: 09/11/1997
Age When Exonerated: 31
Exonerated Date: 03/06/2006
Time Served: 12
Conviction: Life Imprisonment
False Confession: No
Implicated by Another Youth: No


Case Details

Cedric Willis was convicted in 1997 of the armed robbery of Carl White, Jr., his wife Gloria, and daughter Jamilla at their home in Jackson, Mississippi. During the robbery, the robber shot White in the leg, and since White later died of the gunshot wound, Willis was also convicted of his murder. Willis did not match the description of the perpetrator that victims had given to police, as he was 60 pounds heavier, several inches shorter, and a different skin tone. In the line-up room, all the other men in the room were wearing green-and-white jail fatigues, since they had already been processed. Willis was the only one in street clothes. The police let the other men choose numbers for where they would stand in the line, but they told Willis he would be in position one. The Whites identified Willis as the perpetrator. The gun used in the crime was also used in three other robberies committed within the same two-hour time frame. Willis had a tight alibi for the other crimes, and the victims failed to identify him. The same gun was also used in a fourth robbery committed four days prior to the crime. The victims of this robbery identified Willis, but charges against Willis were dropped after DNA evidence from a rape committed during the crime implicated an unknown male. At trial, Willis was not allowed to present evidence from any of the other four robberies. The jury who heard the compelling testimony from the murder victim's family quickly convicted him. Willis was sentenced to life plus ninety years imprisonment. In 2005, Willis was granted a new trial on all charges. In 2006, a judge found the Whites' testimony to be inadmissible at the new trial, and upon a joint motion of the defense and the state, the judge dismissed all charges against Willis.