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Willie Comer

After three men robbed the C & D Café in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, on August 9, 1961, twenty-year-old painter Willie Comer was quickly identified by two eyewitnesses as one of the robbers.  A month later, Comer was convicted of the robbery of C & D Café and sentenced to two to four years at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

Two months after Comer’s conviction, one of his co-defendants, Dewitte Brown, who was then serving a prison sentence as well, wrote to the district attorney to inform him that Comer had not been involved in the robbery of C & D Cafe. Instead, Brown identified nineteen-year-old Harold L. Edwards as his accomplice.  Edwards admitted that he, and not Comer, had been the third accomplice in the robbery, though Edwards claimed he had been unaware his companions were planning the robbery.

With this new evidence of Comer’s innocence, the judge who had sentenced Comer released him on a writ of error coram noblis – an error in prosecution – on January 20, 1962. 

Just ten days after his release from prison, Comer was arrested for beating and robbing a storeowner.  He was convicted of these crimes in March 1962 and sentenced to a term of four and a half to nine years in prison.

-  Meghan Barrett Cousino

State:PA
County:Dauphin
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1961
Convicted:1961
Exonerated:1962
Sentence:2 to 4 years
Race:Don't Know
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:20
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID