Christopher Williams, a wrongfully convicted man who spent 25 years on death row was fatally shot while attending a funeral service Friday afternoon, less than two years after being exonerated of his crimes.
Christopher Williams, a father of six, was struck in the head while operating a vehicle in North Philadelphia during the funeral procession for Tyree Little.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Williams spent 25 years on death row before being cleared of four murder charges and released in February 2021.
The formerly incarcerated man was shot once in the head as he stepped out of his car at Mount Peace Cemetery around 2:20 p.m. Friday.
He was rushed to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead less than half an hour later.
Williams, 62, had previously been exonerated of two further killings, all of which involved the same prison inmate informant. He and co-defendant Theophalis Wilson were found guilty of the 1989 slayings thanks to fabricated evidence and suppressed testimony.
“Never in the history of the Pennsylvania judicial system has someone been accused with six murders, acquitted of two, and now exonerated of four,” he told the newspaper after being freed.
Wilson, the co-defendant, was a family friend of Williams and was also exonerated after nearly three decades in prison. Prosecutors had accused the duo of being in a gang and helping to kill three drug dealers from New York.
He expressed concern for formerly incarcerated people after the fatal shooting of his friend.
“Although we’re actually innocent, not everyone believes it,” he told the newspaper. “I spent 28 years in jail for knowing him. I have to be on guard.”
Friends and family of Williams expressed shock and sadness over his sudden death.