Wrongfully accused Philadelphia man free after 2 decades

U.S. & World

John Miller looks on outside the SCI Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Pa. Wednesday, July 31, 2019. Miller spent more than two decades behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit, is a free man. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office agreed with Miller’s defense team that his prosecution was flawed and his conviction shouldn’t stand. (Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

FRACKVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A Philadelphia man who spent more than two decades behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit is a free man — 17 years after another man confessed to the crime.

John Miller was released Wednesday after 22 years in prison. Surrounded by family outside the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy, 100 miles north of Philadelphia, he said it felt “surreal.”

In 1998, a jury found Miller guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a man in a parking lot outside 30th Street Station two years prior, even though there was no physical evidence of his involvement.

The key witness against him confessed multiple times to being the real shooter and even sent a letter to Miller’s mother apologizing for lying.

The witness, David Williams, recanted his statement at Miller’s preliminary hearing in 1997 and denied it again at trial a year later, but the jury voted to convict Miller anyway.

In 2002, Williams wrote an apology letter to Miller’s mother.

“I can’t live with this on my conscience,” Williams wrote, according to court documents. “Your son had no knowledge of this crime, he wasn’t even there.”

Prosecutors did not say Wednesday whether they planned to charge Williams, or if they believed his confession that he killed Anthony Mullen.

But none of it mattered, according to Miller’s lawyers.

The courts denied Miller’s appeals, citing procedural issues, and alleging that Williams was not believable when he denied his statement and admitted to the crime.

Miller, now 44, contacted the Pennsylvania Innocence Project about eight years ago to help with an appeal.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has agreed with Miller’s defense team that his prosecution was flawed and his conviction shouldn’t stand.

On Wednesday morning, Common Pleas Court Judge Lillian Ransom granted Miller the relief he sought, leading to his release.

Miller said he’s looking forward to eating steak and taking his niece to the zoo.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

CBS47 On Your Side

Do you have a problem that you need help solving? Contact CBS47 and let us be On Your Side.

Phone: 559-761-0383
Email: OnYourSide@cbsfresno.com

Don’t Miss

Best of the Valley
Sunday Morning Matters
MedWatch Today
Hispanic Heritage
Bulldog Insider: The Podcast
The Valley's Armenia
Pros Who Know

Images from Armenia

Small patients in Armenia
Yerevan by night.
Dr. Jeff Thomas delivers.
Dr. Jeff Thomas delivers in Gyumri.
Doctors unpack medical supplies from The Central Valley.
Fresno Medical Mission at work.
Medical Supplies being unloaded.
Fresno Medical Mission at the ready.
KSEE24 crew witnesses the miracle of life in Gyumri, Armenia.
Life saving work of Central Valley surgeons in Armenia.
Ribbon cutting on new surgical center in Ashtarak Armenia. Fresno donors made this dream come true.
KSEE24 on assignment with the Fresno Medical Mission
Honorary Consulate to Armenia Berj Apkarian explains the crisis facing one hospital.
KSEE24's Stefani Booroojian and Kevin Mahan at the meeting with President Bako Sahakyan.
Medical Meeting in Artsakh.
The President of Artsakh meets with the Fresno Medical Mission.
Learning modern medicine techniques with the Fresno Medical Mission in surgery.
Leaning in for a look. Dr. Brien Tonkinson holds class and helps a patient in Armenia.
Fresno Medical Mission cares on one of the smallest patients in the region. Six-year old Yanna receives life-changing better breathing surgery.