‘AGT’ 2020 Contestant Archie Williams’s True Story of Being a Singer in Prison for 37 Years

‘AGT’ 2020 Contestant Archie Williams’s True Story of Being a Singer in Prison for 37 Years

During season 15 premiere of America has talent, the world was presented to an incredible singer named Archie Williams. But beyond his undeniable talent, it is the background of the 59-year-old man who made his interpretation of Elton JohnIt is much more powerful “Don’t let the sun go down on me”.

As the candidate explained in the NBC series, Williams was wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit and therefore served 37 years in prison. In 1983, when Williams was only 22 years old, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for aggravated rape, aggravated battery and attempted murder of a 31-year-old woman . Williams’ mother, sister and family friend all testified that he was at home asleep at the time of the crime. At the trial, none of the fingerprints collected at the scene matched that of Williams.

“I knew I was innocent, I didn’t commit any crimes,” said Williams on the show. “But being a poor black child, I did not have the economic capacity to fight the state of Louisiana.”

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While he spent his years behind bars, Williams explained that while he was physically imprisoned, he never let “his mind go to jail.”

Over time, Williams discovered The Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people by DNA testing and to advocate for criminal justice reform. In 1995, he wrote to the organization to see if they could help reconsider his case. The Innocence project responded and, according to the national register of exemptions, in 1996, the organization filed a request for DNA tests when it became forensic.

According to the Innocence project, it took Williams more than 10 years to pass the tests because he had to wait for the law to catch up with science. Specifically, Williams waited until Louisiana passed a law allowing sentenced people to access DNA testing after trial to prove their innocence. Eventually, the DNA test for the victim’s rape kit was completed in 2009, but the male DNA did not match Williams – he matched the victim’s husband and did not reveal the identity of the perpetrator.

americas got talent auditions 1 episode 1501 photo archie williams photo by trae pattonnbc

NBC

Williams’ freedom fight continued. Finally, on March 14, 2019, fingerprint analysis proved the innocence of Williams and a man named Stephen Forbes, died in 1996, was linked to the crime. Forbes, who is said to have suffered from a mental illness, was arrested and has confessed to several other rape charges. Seven days after the fingerprint scan was completed, Williams was released from prison.

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After learning about Williams’ story and hearing the candidate sing America has talent, judge Simon Cowell couldn’t help but get emotional. He told Williams, “This is an audition that I will never forget for my whole life.”

Inspired by Williams’ resilience, Cowell ended up joining The Innocence Project as an ambassador, hoping to publicize the work of the organization and fight for justice.

Looking back at Williams’ audition, Cowell choked. “Something about watching this clip back, again, is just this feeling of total injustice,” he said when speaking to those involved in the Innocence project. “Whenever I look back at the hearing, I look at it through his eyes and how he must have felt during the day.”

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Nationwide, there have been more than 2,600 exemptions since 1989 and more than 23,000 years lost due to wrongful conviction.

Cowell told the organization that he intends to do everything he can to bring about positive change – for Williams and others like him.

“Archie’s performance is probably the most important in the history of America has talent. What happened to Archie is tragic. Although Archie’s voice is extraordinary, unfortunately his experience of being sent to prison for a crime he did not commit is much more common than most people think… Archie’s story is a story of courage and hope. “

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