In June 1994, Cedric Willis, then just 19 years old, was charged as a participant in two separate robberies – during the course of which a woman was raped and, in the other, a male victim murdered. Mr. Willis was convicted and sentenced him to life in prison for the murder, plus 90 years.
Innocence Project of New Orleans began investigating the case in 2004 and won Mr. Willis a new trial. Among other evidence, DNA testing cleared Mr. Willis of the rape and because the other robbery was almost undoubtedly committed by the same perpetrator, the State dropped the charges. After nearly 12 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, Mr. Willis walked down the front steps of the Hinds County jail into the arms of his family and supporters on March 6, 2006.