For well over 30 years, Willy Stokes was a lifer in Pennsylvania, or a man serving a life sentence which only ended in death. During these long bitter years, he filed plenty of appeals, but they ended in nothingness until he received a letter from another prisoner telling him a man who testified against him over 30 years ago had been convicted of perjury—or lying under oath.
It took years to unravel the story, but once he did, it astonished even him. The man, a Mr. Lee, did indeed testify against him, both at the preliminary hearing and at trial. At the preliminary hearing, he said Willy bragged about shooting a man. At trial, however, Lee testified that Willy never confessed, but he said so under coercion by cops and assistant prosecutors.
But here’s the kicker. Guess what prosecutors charged and convicted Lee of. They charged him with lying at the preliminary hearing, meaning they knew Willy Stokes was innocent from day one. They hid that evidence for decades.
Willy filed a habeas corpus petition and had his illegal conviction thrown out, then he filed a federal civil rights suit against homicide detectives, Lawrence Gerard and Gilbert, as well as assistant DAs [inaudible]. He sued the city of Philadelphia as well. His suit shows a chilling and remarkable tale of cops and DAs conspiring to violate the most fundamental rights imaginable.
Earlier, we said Mr. Lee was coerced to testify against Willy, but that wasn’t all of it. He was also seduced, for girlfriends were allowed to come down to the homicide office, and cops left the two alone, leaving nature to follow its own course. Hey, it’s a Philly thing.
For love not phear, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.