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Jerron Williams

Other Manslaughter Exonerations
On November 12, 2010, a car pulled up outside an apartment complex in Miami, Florida, and gunmen opened fire with AK-47s and then sped off. Twenty-one-year-old Diane Metelus was killed and two children, a 12-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy, were injured.

Within minutes of the shooting, Meshika Anderson, who lived across the street from where the shooting took place, told police that she saw the shooting but could not describe the car and could not identify any of the gunmen or say how many people were in the car. About 30 to 45 minutes later, she saw 31-year-old Jerron Williams drinking and socializing at another apartment in her complex. She called the police and said that Williams, whom she knew from the neighborhood, was one of the gunmen.

Williams was arrested on November 13, 2010 and charged with one count of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Williams went to trial in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court in September 2012, but a mistrial was declared mid-trial. Williams’s brother, Devin, was arrested in court for intimidating Meshika Anderson. As Devin Williams was led down the hall, family members who were attending the trial began complaining loudly while the jury was also in the hall. The judge declared a mistrial because the jury had been tainted by seeing the commotion.

Devin Williams was later acquitted of the charge. At that trial, Anderson was the only witness against him. Although Anderson claimed Devin threatened her the day before she was scheduled to testify in the September 2012 trial, Devin’s attorneys were able to prove, through an alibi witness and his telephone and computer records, that he was 130 blocks away from Anderson’s location at the time of the supposed threat.

When Williams went to trial a second time in March 2013, the prosecution’s evidence was at times contradictory.

There were three eyewitnesses who testified against Jerron, one other witness and a firearms examiner.

The first eyewitness, Anderson, testified that she saw the shooting from the kitchen window of her second-story apartment across the street. She told the jury that the car stopped and three men got out, stood in the street and opened fire at a crowd of people. Anderson said that when Williams got out of the car, she recognized him from the neighborhood. Anderson said that Williams was the only person firing an AK-47, the other two gunmen had handguns. Anderson said that at the end of the shooting, Williams turned towards Metelus and shot her.

The second eyewitness, Charlene Berry, Metelus’s cousin, testified she was standing next to Metelus when she died and was only a few feet from the shooters. Berry testified that the shooters’ faces were covered with bandanas, that they fired from inside the car, and that Metelus was shot as the shooting began, when the car was still approaching the apartment complex.

The third eyewitness was a woman whose 3-year-old son was shot in the foot. The woman could not identify any of the gunmen, but said she saw Williams at the apartment complex earlier in the day in the same car used in the shooting. However, she said Williams was in black Taurus while Anderson said the car was a green Taurus and Charlene Berry said the car was a bluish-gray Mitsubishi Galant. In addition, the third witness said the shooters’ car was headed westbound during the shooting while Anderson and Berry said the car was heading east.

On cross-examination, the defense pointed out that this third witness did not reveal this information until she was interviewed in March 2012—more than a year after the crime—even though she was interviewed by police the night of the shooting.

The fourth witness, who was a very close friend of Anderson’s, testified that he saw Williams about 30 minutes after the shooting and that Williams appeared nervous.

A firearms examiner testified that the shell casings recovered at the scene came from two different assault rifles—contradicting Anderson’s description of the gunmen’s weapons.

On March 28, 2013, the jury convicted Williams of the lesser-included offenses of manslaughter and two counts of aggravated battery. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

In April 2014, defense lawyer Amy Weber filed a motion to vacate the conviction and sentence based on newly discovered evidence. Two days of hearings were held in December 2014.

Witnesses testified that two reputed Miami street gang leaders, twin brothers known as Screw (Kenneth Williams) and Scar (Keith Williams) who headed the New Moneii gang, had admitted that they were responsible for the shooting. Neither is related to Jerron Williams.

Evidence at the hearing included recordings of jail telephone calls during which Scar and Screw discussed the shooting that killed Metelus with their cousin. On the recordings, Scar and Screw said the intended victim was Bo Jeezy, a member of a rival gang called Str8 Drop.

Inmates who were incarcerated with Scar and Screw testified that both admitted they were attempting to kill Bo Jeezy in retaliation for wounding Screw on November 10, 2010—two days before Metelus was killed. According to the testimony, Bo Jeezy and David Sands were believed to be responsible for wounding Screw. Sands was murdered in the early morning hours of November 12, 2010 and the shooting that killed Metelus occurred later that day.

The defense also presented evidence showing that police evidence technicians had determined that the shell casings recovered from the shooting of Metelus were fired from the same weapon as casings recovered from two shootings that occurred after Williams was in custody. That evidence had not been disclosed to Williams’ defense prior to his trial.

In March 2015, Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Miguel De la O granted the defense motion, vacated Williams’ conviction and sentence, and ordered a new trial. “It is not difficult to conclude that it is far more likely than not that Screw and Scar were responsible for the shooting,” the judge said.

Williams was released to house arrest on March 6, 2015.

On May 7, 2015, the prosecution dismissed the charges.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/15/2015
Most Serious Crime:Manslaughter
Additional Convictions:Assault
Reported Crime Date:2010
Sentence:50 years
Age at the date of reported crime:31
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No