William Lopez, a wrongly convicted man, dies a year after his release from prison, and his family now mourns the loss of him. Lopez spent 23 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, and he was released in January 2013. The New York Post shared this man’s story on Sept. 24.
Authorities arrested William Lopez for a 1989 murder. The man was accused of killing of a narcotics dealer. Two witnesses stated that Lopez was the man responsible for the crime at the time, and it was their testimony that prosecutors for the case relied on during the trial. One of those witnesses later recanted her testimony. No forensic evidence at the crime scene tied Lopez to the crime. Staff from the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation fought for the man’s release, and his release came just 20 months ago.
Since his release, he tried to restore his life. He was enjoying life with his wife, and he was trying to reconnect with his daughter. She was only 14 months old when he was convicted. Lopez had big plans for his life. He wanted to go to college and then on to law school. He wanted to help others like him that were wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit. He planned to help his wife start a new business. These things take money, and the man struggled financially following his release.
Lopez filed a lawsuit over his wrongful imprisonment, and that case was headed to court on Tuesday. The lawsuit requested $124 million for the man’s time behind bars, and it claimed malicious prosecution and violation of his constitutional rights, according to Travelers Today.
The man died on Saturday after an asthma attack, and his family held services for him on Wednesday. His mother flew in for the church service from Puerto Rico, and she will take her son back to Puerto Rico for burial later today. His brother, Eugene, spoke out about the death of his brother. He said the following:
“He was trying to restore his life and give something back. To have this happen is just devastating. I’m still hurting. I’m still angry. It happened to him, and it continues to happen to a lot of people.”
His family plans to move forward with the lawsuit following Lopez’s death. He will not be around to spend any of the money that comes from the lawsuit if the case is successful, but his family still wants justice for William Lopez. He spent 23 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. His brother told the New York Post the following about the wrongful conviction, according to the New York Post:
“My brother Bill was greatly bothered by the fact that his life was dramatically impacted by being wrongfully convicted, as well as his knowledge that many other wrongful convictions have taken place without any changes in the system.”
People wrongfully convicted of crimes they do not commit are being released due to new evidence. This comes in the form of DNA evidence. According to the Innocence Project, 318 people have exonerated after DNA evidence proved their innocence.
William Lopez’s story is a tragic one. His life would have been very different if he had not been convicted of a murder he did not commit.