Jerron Williams, once sent to prison for 50 years in the stray-bullet death of a Miami mother, is now a free man.
Prosecutors dropped a manslaughter charge against Williams on Thursday, two months after defense lawyers persuaded a judge to throw out a jury verdict against him. The reason: Newly uncovered evidence suggested that two notorious Miami gangsters known as “Scar” and “Screw” were actually to blame for the 2010 killing of Diane Metelus.
After reviewing the evidence and the judge’s 35-page order, prosecutors concluded they could not win before a jury.
“We felt we just could no longer prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Jailed since 2010, Williams walked out of jail at 9:56 a.m. His current lawyer could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The attorney who headed the defense investigation, Amy Weber, told the Miami Herald in March: “Jerron Williams put his trust in God, never gave up hope, and inspired everyone involved in this project to persevere. He feels truly blessed and is grateful for the opportunity to vindicate himself from these false accusations.”
Metelus, a 21-year-old mother, was walking home from a corner store in November 2010 when four gunmen pulled up in a car, opening fire on a crowd. Two children were wounded, and Metelus was shot dead. The case hinged on a single eyewitness. From a second-story kitchen window, she identified one of the gunmen as Williams, 35, whom she knew as “Gaitor.”
He was tried twice, the first case ending in a mistrial after his brother was accused of witness tampering in front of the jury, a charge he later beat.
At the 2013 retrial, jurors convicted Williams of the lesser crimes of manslaughter and aggravated battery. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Miguel de la O sentenced him to 50 years in prison.
But after his conviction, the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office pieced together a compelling theory: that the true culprits were twin brothers Keith “Scar” Williams and Kenneth “Screw” Williams, neither related to Jerron Williams.
Miami-Dade prosecutors have long believed the twins operated a violent gang in Liberty City called “New Moneii.” In a hearing last year, defense lawyers said Metelus had been killed inadvertently by the twins, who were gunning for a rival that night.
Jerron Williams had no ties to the twins, and only the eyewitness linked him to the crime, the defense contended.
The defense theory was corroborated by a convicted murderer, William “Little Bill” Brown. He claimed that Screw, while in jail, confessed that the brothers were behind the attack that killed Metelus.
Brown also served as a “translator” for jail phone calls rife with street talk between a slew of gang associates that appeared “to show that Scar and Screw admitted their involvement” in the woman’s death, the judge wrote in his order granting a new trial.
“It is not difficult for this court to conclude that it is far more likely than not that Screw and Scar were responsible for the shooting,” Judge de la O wrote in his order.