A Nashville man went free this week after being sentenced to nearly 15 years to life imprisonment for the 1998 murder for which he was wrongly convicted.
Joseph Webster, 41, was released from the Davidson County Jail on Tuesday night and rejoined the state after his mother, sons and other family members approved a petition to revoke his murder sentence.
“Good God, Joseph! You are the mercy of the house baby oh my god, ”Webster’s mother said while hugging her son, showing the video from WSMV, an affiliate of NBC News in Nashville.
Webster’s attorney, Daniel Horwitz, said the county’s sentencing review unit was founded in 2016 by Webster’s release in Nashville.
“Mr. Webster was the first to apply for review from the Davidson County District Attorney’s Convention Review Unit,” Horwitt said Friday. “This unit – and its processes and personnel – identified issues and problems during the case The reasons developed in large part. “
According to court documents, Weber went on trial for first-degree murder in the 1998 murder of Leroy Owens. Within hours of starting the deliberations, the jury found the witness guilty as a witness, because of a witness who identified him as the murderer, and was sentenced to life in prison.
But a decade later, the new unit was designed to review cases that have expired incorrectly, with Webster’s testing finding significant flaws. At the same time, Horwitz and his team began their investigation.
Four years later, after receiving new evidence and testimony, the district attorney’s office announced that “no longer believed in Mr. Webster’s trust” and recommended to a judge that “Mr. Webster’s conviction be terminated and Charges against him were dismissed. “
“Given the avalanche of new exonerating evidence that we were able to develop through a new investigation, I was confident that we would arrive at this point eventually,” Horwitz said. “I didn’t know when or how, and there were certainly many low points along the way, but eventually I hoped that we would get here, no matter how long.”
In 1998, Owens was in a parking lot in the city of Nashville when two men in a white station wagon chased him and, according to court documents, instigated him to death from a cindereblock. Witnesses said they believed the motive was a drug debt and identified two black people as attackers.
One was described as being of medium build and weighing around 160 pounds. A witness picked up Webster as the suspect from a photo lineup. But Webster was about 300 pounds and had gold teeth, a narrator missing no one.
When Webster enlisted Horwitz’s help in 2016, the witness narrated his testimony.
“At that point, the only witness who had ever identified him as one of the perpetrators had already given his testimony under oath several times and had obvious credibility problems,” Horwidge said.
He also had a weapon used for Wester’s DNA in killing Owen, and no one was found.
“It was very clear to me that the evidence against him was extremely weak, that the investigation into this murder was completely slow and incomplete, and it was a very serious innocent claim.”
According to court documents, evidence presented in the wrongful conviction case found that Kenny Neill, a relative of Webster’s, had said to have committed the murder.
“I’m so happy, I really don’t know what to say,” Webster told WSMMV the night of its release. “The hard part is over and now I have to deal with this part, and that’s the best part of it.”
One of Webster’s sons told the station that he first saw his father out of prison.
“Every time I’ve seen him, he’s behind bars,” Joaquan Webster said.
“He loves his family and was reminded every single day that he was disorganized,” Horwitz said of his newly freed client. “He went straight to his mother’s house, had his first homemade food – meat, cloves, cornbread, turnip greens, macaroni and cheese in about two decades – and began making up for lost time with his mother and children. . “
He said Webster is working on a plan to restore his voting rights, retake the driver’s exam and start his own trucking business.