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Ex-prosecutors, DOJ officials back Supreme Court petition to reverse teen's murder conviction

Ex-prosecutors, DOJ officials back Supreme Court petition to reverse teen's murder conviction
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A group of former prosecutors and Justice Department officials is now petitioning the Supreme Court to review the years-old murder conviction of an intellectually disabled teen.

The group of 44 officials, including former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, filed a brief earlier this week in support of claims by lawyers for Corey Williams that Louisiana prosecutors withheld evidence that proves their client's innocence, The Associated Press reports.

The lawyers argue there was no physical evidence incriminating Williams in the shooting death of pizza deliveryman Jarvis Griffin in Caddo Parish, La., two decades ago and are pushing to reverse his conviction.

Williams, who was 16 when arrested by police, had been hospitalized for extreme lead poisoning before the shooting and still sucked his thumb and often urinated on himself, his lawyers said.

The teenager gave police a brief confession on the night of the 1998 shooting after initially denying the murder, and then said he was tired and wanted to go lie down. Lawyers argue the teenager's conviction came primarily from the testimony of one man.

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Three older men were said to have stolen money and pizza from Griffin, whose blood was found on one of the men's clothing while fingerprints on the murder weapon belonged to another and none of Williams's were found, Williams's lawyers said.

Lawyers for Williams also said the teen was seen after the shooting running into his grandmother's house with nothing in his hands, where he hid under a sheet until police arrived.

Only after Williams's trial did the lawyers obtain recordings of police suggesting the three men attempted to frame him for the murder, according to Louisiana's The Advocate

Prosecutors initially sought the death penalty for Williams, who was ultimately spared in a 2004 district court decision on the basis of his disabilities, one of his attorneys said.

Williams's lawyers are now seeking a Supreme Court appeal after the Louisiana Supreme Court refused to hear their claims last year.