Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Dennis Williams

First NameDennis
Last NameWilliams
Year of Conviction1978
Year of Exoneration1996
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionIllinois
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceYes
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Defendant was the sole alibi witness.

Did the defendant testify at trial?Yes
Quotes from Exoneree Testimony

“Q: Then what, if anything did you do? A: In went into the house and I stopped in the kitchen and got me some popcorn and a cup of pop and went on into my room and got a yoga book and started briefing through the book. I had been through it before. I was just reviewing and I was eating the popcorn and drinking the pop all along, you know. And after that I just went to bed.”; “Well, all I was advising them of was I didn’t know anything about what they was charging me with.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Hair
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Error
  • Invalid
Reason why invalid(5) Hair match; incorrect testing
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

See Adams, supra and Part II.B.2. In addition, the analyst testified that Williams is an A secretor. Later analysis disclosed that Williams is actually an A nonsecretor. See Part II.F.2.

Identity of eyewitness
  • Intraracial Identificaiton
  • Non-victim
Lineup Procedures
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Suggestive line-up – see Adams

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Initial nonidentification – see Adams

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessCD, J
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Non-public facts – see Adams and Rainge cases
Quotes from testimony #3

Jailhouse informant testified: “Dennis Williams said he’s glad he took care of the guy and he was tellint Una don’t worry about nothing because they’re gone. They’ll never find the pistol, you know.” And that “they didn’t really shouldn’t have took it from the lady, you know.”

Highest level reachedAppeal
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Fourth Amendment
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  • Jackson Claim
  • Jury Selection
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Claims granted, resulting in preexon. reversal
  • Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • NP
Citations to judicial opinions

People v. Williams, 444 N.E.2d 136 (Ill. 1982)
Illinois v. Williams, 467 U.S. 1218 (1984)
People v. Williams, 588 N.E.2d 983 (Ill. 1991)
Williams v. Illinois, 506 U.S. 876 (1992)

Read more about this exoneration