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Episode 154: The Night of the Party

2020-12-04 | 🔗

When Nathan Myers and Clifford Williams were charged with the murder of Jeanette “Baldie” Williams in Jacksonville, Florida on May 2, 1976, neither of them were worried they would be convicted. They had dozens of witnesses that could confirm that they had been at a party when the shots were fired. But during their trial, not a single one of those witnesses was asked to testify. The prosecution’s entire case rested on the testimony of a woman named Nina Marshall, who'd been in bed with Jeannette Williams at the time of the shooting. Nina Marshall herself had been shot three times, but said she recognized the men who had shot Jeanette Williams, and that they were Nathan Myers and Clifford Williams.  We speak with Nathan Myers, the director of the Conviction Integrity Unit for Florida’s 4th Judicial Circuit, Shelley Thibodeau, and with forensic artist Jim McMillan.

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Hi it's Phoebe a great way to help support. Our show right now is to buy some criminal merchandise. We're launching a brand new online job will be adding all kinds of new things to it in the coming months. This we're adding a brand new enamel pin and instead of twenty five postcards featuring some of our favorite episode illustrations by Julian Alexander. We also of tee shirts and tote bags even and I'm Phoebe Judge Mask de Checker store go to. This is criminal dot com and click on shop. Thanks very much. for your support. Support for criminal comes from capital, one everyone like shopping online, but searching for coupon codes is kind of a bummer. So make saving on mine a breeze with capital. One shopping capital on shopping is a free tool that instantly searches for available coupon codes and automatically apply summit check out just Download Captain one shopping to your computer and let it
do the work for you so easy and you don't even need a capital one card to use it Capra one shopping, it's kind of genius. What, in your wallet, savings and available coupons, very thanks to at sea for them support the holiday season is going to look a little different from any of us this year, but at sea can help it feel brighter with unique personalized and one of a kind gifts. You can't find anywhere else on that see if you can find housewares at jewelry, toys, bath and beauty products, and so much more. Both made by hand and hand picked by vintage experts. Go to etsy dot com gifts to shop, meaningful gifts to the people. You love this holiday season, that's etsy dot com, slash gifts in nineteen, seventy six and eighteen year, old, name, Nathan, Myers graduated from high school and moved into an apartment on Morgan Street, in Jacksonville Florida, Romania was a twenty six year old woman named Jeanette Williams, everyone
her body. She worked at a car wash and Nathan says they were great friends. She, big dinners for him every Sunday and then one may Nathan was invited to birthday party on a street Margo One really told me about a party I was are put off a trip, go to Philadelphia at night, but if they were, you really go today. Friday if you doubt obray I feel I went to the party Nathan Meyer spend a lot of time with his uncle Clifford Williams, even though Clifford Williams, this much older than Nathan, and they went to the party together. along with Clifford's pregnant wife, Barber Williams. There were a lot of people at the party
at approximately one thirty in the morning they heard gunshots about twenty minutes later someone said police on the block. Everyone went outside and Nathan says he could see. Police cars right in front of his apartment but y'all going to recovery go up there I still don't cyclists it's cool gone home at a who is you when they relate the martyrs, and I leave you so you live here, say yes he's. Ever we get one female look decease at another when it asks for them Also, you think, could you get a fact which one are you sure care? Sorry your as those Stefano blood, he shouted a flashlight flows. I'll go to. I went to the sea border.
we do that we would laying her stomach. ok mom the crowd had gathered there s a bowling now bone Do did at the time of the shooting Nathan, Myers, roommate, Jeanette Williams or Baldy was asleep in bed with her partner, Nina Marshall, Nina more had been shot three times once in the arm and twice in the neck? She managed to escape the apartment and flag down a passing car to take her to hospital. She said she and Jeanette Williams had been sleeping. The tv was on. She said she thought she heard the front door and mock she fell back asleep. She saw two men came into the bedroom and stood at the foot of the bed. They covered. Their guns with pillows were blankets and fired.
both guns were empty, then they turned closed the bedroom door and left through the front door, locking behind them. Nina Marshall told people. Is she know exactly who the men were? She could see their faces in the light of the television Nathan Myers and his uncle Clifford here the police came to me, see you may make them Yes, yes, sir, they around you're the rest of you for what so you have the rest so up they put their cuffed car It took me you don't like I was I was, afraid lobby what's going on, I'm Phoebe judge. This is criminal
need. The in Clifford Williams were charged with the first degree, murder of Jeanette Williams and the attempted murder of Nina Marshall. Clifford Williams had a criminal record he'd been arrested more than many times mostly on drug charges. he was well known by the Jacksonville police and people in the neighbourhood, as a heroine dealer still His nephew Nathan remembers not worrying. There were so many people who had seen, but the party that night at the exact moment the gunshots were heard. He thought. Surely, when people heard the whole story, everything clear itself up it. My lawyer told me, see LISA We don't need a usual your witness according to prove your guilt. He knows about ass. He would he don't gotta decay poorly gives so I'll take his advice. I have thirty forty somewhere to state that I was there. What am I gonna do away with them
What without eating you know, I I had always people detained testify there, but self got away You told me that I don't need them. I don't Clifford defence attorneys declined to call any of the more than forty people who had seen them at the party as witnesses info. in the seventies. If a defence attorney waved their right to call witnesses, they could make their closing argument first and then also respond to whatever closing argument the prosecution made. This was the gamble. Nathan includes defence attorney. talk lease on a strong closing argument would be more persuasive than hearing from witnesses her with the men at the party that night your boy. Are you at all of these alibi witnesses and Anna and this plan? And he basically said don't worry free about it. We don't need an opening statement. We don't need these alibi witnesses. They have to prove
guilty were fine effort. That will mean Nina Marshall testified for the prosecution. She told the court what she told the police she such an able to clearly identify Nathan, Myers and Clifford Williams, even though it was dark The bedroom, from the light of the television, The states entire case rested on what she said. The prosecutor told the jury when you have an eye, witness you dont need all the forensics. You dont need all that stuff Nathan Cliff Its defence attorneys argued that need it. I story quote, did not make sense they besides sized her history of drug use. Neighbours describe, towards a heroin attic and said she had a reputation for failing to pay drug dealers. She'd been arrested before and sometimes used a different name neither Marshall herself said, she'd stop
using heroin two or three days before the shooting and was using methadone. She acknowledged using methadone, and smoking marijuana. Before going to sleep on the night of the shooting, the press, the commission had offered Nathan Myers a plea deal in exchange for it us against his uncle. If he cooperated heeded, They serve five years in prison, he'd be out by the time he was twenty three, but he refused. He said he knew his uncle, didn't do it they'd been together and they were innocent. The trial lasted two days and the jury deliberated for just under three hours. before reaching their verdict, o winner will divert it were really well. You know I've got my brave got explode. Could I could believe a life life in prison of thirty years.
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Clifford William spent four years on death row before the Florida Supreme Court changed his sentence to life in prison. Nathan says he did all they could do not become completely hopeless, Gaia Rivers, Grove Robert about grow Bobo Father, you know these dear allotted duskily most raised up Colette ass. We we live there and I could show that kind of weakness could have done better. Sat a week is so I could do it would have been able to be on about family, familiar to hear that and filed post conviction, motions for decades. They always said they were innocent. They filed public records, requests,
asking to see information relating to their own case. Nathan says he asked the court to please interview people from the party, but it was all denied they hit dead ends at every turn. Decades passed like this Nathan celebrated his thirtieth birthday in prison than his forty him and his fifty a few others deal will try to fight. It did not back up get about dark, kinda guy, take a break. Their red or my best friend we raised, have been the same neighbor who, with school girl, get say table. They were told his brown Tony Brown with me the same prison as Nathan, Myers shortly after reconnecting turning round. Nathan about a man named Nathaniel Lawson. He said
Can ninety ninety three. He just got out of a different prison and was hanging out at a place called deuces on. Pearl Street in downtown Jacksonville when he was approached by Nathaniel Lawson they started talking. These told stories about crimes they committed Nathaniel Lawson, said the Clifford Williams and Nathan. Myers were serving time for a shooting that he had committed. He said did. He was paid by heroin dealer to shoot, mean a Marshall because she owed money. Nathan Myers asked Tony Brown to write down the information, sign it and submit it to the court. Tony Brown agreed and then turning round told Nathan Myers that he was gonna, help them as much as possible with his case, This man here was so good and alone.
he kept me. The a low labourer case that case gonna over cases there can overturn that similar Bacchus and stuff. Like that, and we were we weren't. We weren't able there. He will read a Jack Seville Jura Tab. You, our citizens, will not be a red. U S! Everything! He called me he's a name, Yeah. You come check me that you might that you might want to redesign the gutter they you need to cut right. Now, I've go to his right. He showed me the people wait stated trader. We'll will try to go on Turkey to you anyway. is it you need a right. Am I wrong? in January. Two thousand seventeen Nathan Mire In a letter about the newly forming conviction, integrity unit, he wrote dear state attorney. I pray you, please excuse my intrusion I am writing this letter.
After reading an article in the floor two times, union, in which you are starting a group to seek out and reverse wrongful convictions for the past forty two years, I've been in prison. Faced with the prospect of dying in a prison sound for a crime, I had nothing to do with. I was eighteen years of age at the time of these crimes. Today I am fifty nine years old. Having spent forty two years in prison, The crime I did not and could not have committed conviction. Integrity units are relatively new, sometimes are called conviction, units or convict. can review units and are often described as a sort of in house innocence project.
A way for state attorney's offices to look back and try to correct cases where the office may have made a mistake there about sixty of them. Today, a former defense attorney named Shelley Thibodeau, was hired to be the director of the conviction, integrity unit for Florida. Fourth, judicial circuit, the first in the state. By the time I arrived in the office in January, there were eighty letter sitting on my desk waiting for me in Ethan Myers had read that article. You know in prison and so he started writing the office inhale when you have the NED Up and running. Will you please reach out to me? I have a case that I would like for you to investigate and his love Aerostat honoured and on the desk for a year here before I arrived and then when I arrived, I started going through the eighty letters that we're waiting for me and there was the thing about the
how on earth the tenor of his latter dad's. Destroy me. As being you know, believable possible damage it in, leads me and so or you know, following the protocol that we had set up. I sense Nathan mire back a letter asking him to fill the petition and win He returned the petition to me. He attached, you know he gonna set forth the petition, you know his arguments and the story, and then he attached a bunch of documents, along with the documents then Myerson a diagram that he had drawn of his old department and the bedroom where the shooting had occurred. Thinking to myself, if I'm in prison and I've been wrongfully convicted. You know this is the sort of thing that I would be doing to try to convince somebody of my innocence. I would be attaching documents and after reading the
Titian. My my initial thought was. You know if, in fact, what he is saying is true, you know there could be something here, and so that then started the whole investigation process. Shall we tiptoe began her investigation by reading the transcripts of the trial that had taken place. More than four decades earlier saw. I think right away, I think, right after I read the trial transcripts, and I realized that there was no physical and that linked either one of them to these crimes. The only evidence that the seat attorney's office put forth at trial was the word the surviving victim, and so when it came, became pretty clear to me that ito. In fact what there was saying, appeared to be borne out by I was reading, I know it. I became obsessed
that point time with doing a deep dive into what happened, Lena Marshall testified that Clifford Nathan had stood at the foot of the bed, and fired their guns directly, the women and men, but looking back through the case file Chile typical realised that nothing about the physical evidence founded the crime scene, supported that account. There was a hole in the bedroom window. So that it detective that came out of the scene initially made a notation that you know in the seven he's right. You have a screen on the window, but in the seventies the screens were made out of aluminum Minos, some sort of metal as it is, I've had actually made a notation the report that the metal prongs around the whole pointed inward towards the bathroom indicating that the bullets came from outside the apartment through the window and the glass window was shattered and had a hole in it. There was
notation that there was glass found on the victims, bad that was low, hated underneath the window, no forest entry anywhere and and as a matter of fact, door was locked, which I also that was very strange and I've just committed this horrible crime, am I shot up to people who I know I mean I know these women have gone into the bedroom, I've shot them in cold blood, and then I'm gonna log the apartment door. Whereas I'm leaving, I mean I thought that was a very bizarre fact. It is never sat well with me. Why would you do that so and then, in addition to the physical findings at the scene, we also have the bullets. Shall activity found that six bullets were recovered from? the scene and crime lab analysis from nineteen. Seventy six showed that they were all fired, from the same gun Nina Marshal had said. There were two guns,
and I was I will that's really interesting because she's adamant that there were two people in her bedroom and both people were firing shots and so word the other The other shots go but in In a revolver, there would have been six shots, so it's ache. It accounts for one gun being fired the shooter fired all of the the projectiles out of that firearm and there was no evidence that there were actually to firearms involves in this crime. In addition to Phoebe with these men were arrested very shortly after this crime took place and both of them had gunshot residue test done their hands and those gunshot residents have worse off to be analyzed, and neither one of them had a gunshot residue.
located on their hands, and I was like all that's really interesting. Shelly tiptoes next step was to bring photographs from nineteen. Seventy six to the current medical examiner to get another opinion of the wounds on the victims. bodies, I'm not telling her about the K Siena, I'm trying to be very cognisant of not providing information to anybody that I used as an expert, because I don't want to taint there thought process. So we start going through the photographs in right away. There is aid. An entrance wound on the deceit ends an arm you know on her left arm and on the backside of her left arm is the matter EL examiner looks at me and she says I will this: isn't a regularly shaved entrance wound, which means that the bullet that struck her arm had to have had something else and then at tumbles, and then it hits the arm tumbling.
so it's not a it's not circular, as you might expect, you know if you were shot and adjusts makes its way directly into your skin and you know in it, and I had missed that and I was like it was like a light one off for me. I mean I already had my theory and I was already fairly well convince, but when said that I was like. Of course, you know that bullet is the first bullet that was fired and it struck the screen in the glass, so that was the intervening object that had head and it starts to tumble, and you know it hits the back of, Jeanette Williams ARM, and if, in fact, shooters had fired from inside the bedroom as described by Nina. You know there was no intervening object for the bullets her head, she track down. Many of the people from the birthday party in eighteen. Seventy six ass. She could and interviewed them, Jeanette Williams, family members. She tried to
Kate Mean Marshall, but she died in two thousand one shot. the learned that Nathaniel Larsson, the man who had previously told Tony Brown that here The person who committed the shooting had died also when found yourself getting deeper and deeper, and reading more and more I mean, did you find yourself? As you say, you kind of became obsessed with this. I became obsessed with cars, You know it's becoming more and more clear to me that these men have been wrong. fully convicted and but the time Phoebe, I'm forty aids. You know I'm now fifty, but at the time I'm investigating that some forty eight and I'm thinking to myself. These man went to prison when I sex and they ve spent, almost my entire lifetime in prison for something that It didn't you and I I'm just thinking to myself my entire lifetime. You know these men have been imprisoned, something they didn't do it.
What became very urgent for me to contend. My investigation is as quickly as I could, while being halogens, so that we can get to a place where presenting this too in the courts and and the courts making a decision about what they're going to do. But I did towards the end of two thousand and eighteen became him for early frantic. At that point time I had Clever Williams and you know It was in his. seven days, we want to stay with seventy six at the time and he's in from my purse. active frail and I'm engaging in this man may not have a lot of time on on this planet, and I needed to get something done we'll be right. Back support put criminal comes from separate router. If you in charge of hiring fear business,
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ok. Well, how can we make it right, and that was not the simple thing was innocent Think legally, it wasn't a simple thing to prove. You know I had kind of a naive, view of how the system worked even after having been in it for a long time. I found it difficult to believe that someone could be convicted of murder and put in prison for forty three years for some and they didn't do it, it was disturbing tend to know that. Not only can that happen it it has happened more often than way more often than it should have. Jim Melon used computer programs to model potential bullet trajectories and even mapped out the dimensions of the apartment in the basement of the state attorneys off. I taped after dimensions in the room on the floor. In the other room, there's no, I could get a better sense of the site.
so the room and where people had to beat you know and and and all of those things just just made it more clear that it didn't happen. The way the jury was told. It happened. And the more he in Shelly Thibodeau dug the less possible Nina marshals version of events, I dont, believe she was lying. She just doesn't know what happened. She was awake. in the middle of the night by someone shooting at her, and she just you know she combined put together pieces. You know that just work, what happened the conviction, integrity units, port notes that Wall Nina Marshals account was inconsistent with the evidence quote, this was clearly a traumatic event. Victim marshal was asleep. The bedroom was dark or dimly lit at best she was shot three times and bleeding profusely. She believed
Romantic partner had been shot and killed. This event happened over a matter of seconds and this would have been frightening. Nathan. Myers says that during his correspondence was Shelly, tiptoe and the conviction integrity unit. He tried to keep his uncle Clifford Williams. Out of it. Scared to get his uncles hopes up. Do you evolve? Look what you need to Noco, whatever with good for me, will be good for your fight for both of us. He you getting be old, you get to be obeyed good, so I they do so ass to head. In a flat genetic in July, two thousand and eighteen, the Jacksonville Sheriff's office gave Nathan Myers polygraph test? He was asked three questions: did you shoot either of those women Did you shoot either of those women in May of night
in seventy six? Did you shoot either of those women at fifteen fifty Morkan Street Apartment, one pair of flour, puddles relieved that good progress to say those who participate in the blue collar change? Your toolbars were about to utilise the detective who administer the polygraph wrote in her report no deception indicated. You know it was sort of the tri fact of cases we had alibi witnesses that weren't called we had physical evidence. that supported their innocence and then, ultimately, we had another man and who had confess to having committed the crime tat. Two thousand nineteen Shelly tiptoe concluded, quote the can fiction, integrity, review, division, recommend As to the honourable state attorney
the determination that the office has lost faith in the convictions. defended, Myers, defendant Williams is warranted. She wrote these men would not be convicted by a jury in two thousand nineteen. If the jury were presented with all the ex cop, a tory evidence, Shelly tiptoe asked the innocence project of Florida to represent Nathan Myers, and she asked Attorney Buddy shoals to represent Clifford Williams, pro bono, which both of them did on March twenty eight two thousand night. in Nathan, Myerson Clifford Williams went back into court forty three years after their convictions. they were released from prison. That day
Landoll I need to do is just get your grub spot. I need to get me a spot. I found your spot above the last part tree and I got down on my knees, kiss the thank my Lord Savior for this freedom. So I've been praying for some, my mother in prayer, for my sister, my whole family been praying for that day and bad about it later. What of them to see TAT day you all that was certain things. Everything I can't hold. No more He was sixty one years old when he was released from prison. The state paid him them. maximum amount allowed by the Florida victims of wrongful incarceration act two million dollars today he lives in Orlando. With his wife,
I've never been in love. In my life, I got out approval. How do you like this is? This? Is it this is pretty good people here. You know about why from the surgeon was any real good peoples? You know when I go go to to flee go out sharply. Go to Barbara deliver shop, go to a good about to go out to eat and Edith stuff like every due to day together, you I've got all. I do a come on board personnel Watch TV. gotta go out of the I do not hang a dog. My house Nathan's uncle Clifford Williams was seventy Sears old when he was released from prison, he's been having some health issues and was content to let his nephew Nathan speak for both of them Clifford Williams, move back to Jacksonville, where he read When we got married earlier this year, the Ford a legislature
manifestly voted to pay him to put one five million dollars, fifty thousand dollars for each year. He was in prison for me, I ask you something for those men that you were in prison with. The men that were in the law, library with you in and working to free themselves? What would you tell me? now after it. Having worked for you tell those men who were who are still there, just hoping they get a chance to prove their innocence job. Where, were you Would you You know some stuff that you fighting. He fattening book a free. You keep look peak, father, yeah?
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Transcript generated on 2020-12-04.