In 1994, Cyrus Wilson, who was 19 years old at the time, was put in prison for allegedly murdering a man in East Nashville as revenge for stealing his car. Christopher Luckett’s body was found under a chain-link fence; he was shot in the face with a shotgun, according to a news article at The Tennessean. Wilson, who has maintained his innocence for two decades, was found guilty based mostly on the testimony of a few juvenile witnesses. Now, two of those witnesses have come forth and admitted that they lied at the time of the murder due to pressure from police.
Patrick McNally, Wilson’s defense attorney, spent part of the day on Tuesday May 13th laying out the issues with his client’s conviction before the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Not only have two of the primary witnesses now recanted their stories, a note was discovered in a prosecutor’s file that the defense lawyer in the original case never saw. The shorthand note read “Good case but for most of witnesses are juveniles who have already lied repeatedly.” In addition, a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report revealed that the shells found at Luckett’s murder scene did not match the shotgun police claim Wilson used in the murder.
The two witnesses who claimed at the time that Wilson committed the murder, Rashime Williams and Rodriguez Lee, now say that their testimony was coerced by police, that police were threatening that if the boys didn’t say what police wanted to hear, they would be charged with the murder. Now, McNally is arguing with the appeals court that there is essentially zero evidence that Cyrus Wilson murdered Christopher Luckett. McNally went on to say that if the situation were to go back down to the trial court level, the case would not go to trial.
While Wilson’s wife and mother are hopeful that Wilson’s conviction will be overturned by the appeals court, learning whether that will be the case or whether he will be tried again will likely take months.
Most Michigan criminal appeals attorneys would agree that there is overwhelming evidence in this case that makes it doubtful whether Wilson committed the murder. Considering the shells found at the scene of the murder were not a match to the shotgun the defendant allegedly used and the fact that some of the juvenile witnesses at the time were not at all credible, Wilson deserves at the very least a new trial.
Having a conviction thrown out by an appeals court is rare, but it does happen. We will keep an eye on this story over the next few months to see how it turns out, and whether Cyrus Wilson may be a free man.
Anyone who has been wrongfully convicted of a crime must consult with a skilled Michigan criminal appeals lawyer with extensive experience and intense knowledge of the process. Winning an appeal is tough; the outcome could hinge on the quality of attorney you choose.