On August 15th, 1988, Walter McMillian’s trial for homicide began in Baldwin County, Alabama. The trial, moved from Monroe County where the crime had been committed to Baldwin County, saw a jury of 11 whites and one African-American. After only a day and a half, McMillian was convicted. The prosecution presented an alleged conspirator and two other witnesses who confirmed the coconspirator’s testimony. The defense presented 6 alibi witnesses, all who said they had been with McMillian the entire time the crime was said to have been committed. Though the prosecution’s evidence was weak, the 12 jurors found McMillian guilty and suggested a punishment of life in prison. However, this recommendation was overruled by the judge, who instead imposed death on McMillian.
This decision was confirmed after McMillian’s attorneys, from the Equal Justice Institute in Montgomery, Alabama, appealed to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. After further investigation, attorneys at the Equal Justice Institute found that the alleged coconspirator, stated on the record that he was being forced to implicate McMillian with the crime.
In addition to this new evidence, other evidence from the trial was found to be incorrect the prosecutors concealed evidence from a witness who saw the victim alive after the time the crime was said to have been committed. Soon after, the two other prosecution witnesses admitted that they had lied during the trial about McMillian being involved with the crime.
Because of all of this new evidence, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction, and on March 2nd, 1993, McMillian was released from death row.
Released December 25th, 2019, the film Just Mercy, based on Bryan Stevenson’s book with the same title, hit the theaters. Bryan Stevenson, Walter McMillian’s attorney during his trial, is played by Michael B. Jordan in the legal drama. Walter McMillan is played by Jamie Foxx.
The portrayal of a man wrongly convicted and sentenced to death row on the big screen once again forces America to look in the mirror and see just how ugly the criminal justice system can look, especially when it comes to the way it treats people of color and lower socioeconomic status. Our history is sordid, and this movie is yet another ominous call for change.
If you or someone you know is need of legal help, it is important to have an attorney on your side. Don’t let the government force a criminal conviction on you. Don’t become a statistic. If you need a Denver criminal defense attorney to stand up for your rights against the government, call Krizman Law today at 303.529.2677.
Mr. Krizman is a criminal defense attorney in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in providing relentless defense for domestic violence, DUI, and drug crimes. He is a former public defender who has also worked for a district attorney and is licensed in the State of Colorado, and the United States Federal Court, District of Colorado. Mr. Krizman is a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Colorado Bar Association, Denver Bar Association, and Arapahoe County Bar Association. A Colorado native, he has a law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Government and World Affairs from the University of Tampa. Contact him today at 720.819.7317.