More than two decades after Earl Washington Jr. went to prison for a rape and murder he didn’t commit, his lawyers say he’ll soon see compensation, in the form of $1.9 million from the state of Virginia.
In 1984, Washington was convicted of the brutal rape and murder of Rebecca Lynn Williams, a 19-year-old Culpeper woman.
Washington spent 17 years in prison, nine and a half of them on death row, coming within nine days of being executed at one point. He was exonerated in 2000.
|Earl Washington, Jr., now a much-older maintenance worker in Virginia Beach, will finally see payment from the state of Virginia for the 17 years he spent in prison.|
A Charlottesville U.S. District Court judge awarded Washington $2.25 million in a suit against the estate of Curtis Reese Wilmore, an investigator who elicited a false confession from the mildly retarded Washington. But Wilmore’s estate appealed, and many wondered whether Washington would ever see compensation for his years of hard time.
Finally, after talks with the state, Washington’s lawyers have reached a settlement, to be approved by the court in the coming weeks. As part of the agreement, the Wilmore settlement and appeal will be dismissed. Charlottesville attorney Steve Rosenfield, one of Washington’s lawyers, estimates the court proceedings will conclude within a couple of weeks.
Washington lives in Virginia Beach and is employed as a maintenance worker. His lawyers are establishing a trust fund to help manage his money.
“We’re very happy that Earl will be provided with a little more comfort than he experienced on death row,” Rosenfield says. “He has no plans for retirement.”
Washington’s case spurred a 2001 Virginia law that allows inmates who claim innocence to introduce new DNA evidence at any time, as opposed to the prior limit of 21 days after sentencing.
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