On March 16, 2017, Andrew Leander Wilson left Los Angeles’ Men’s Central Jail as a free man after being wrongfully convicted of murder. In 1984, a 21-year-old man was sleeping in his truck, with his girlfriend Saladena Bishop also sleeping next to him, when he was fatally stabbed to death.
Wilson was picked out by Bishop in a line up after a police officer pointed at Wilson’s photo. This unfortunate choice placed Wilson in prison for the next 32 years, yet he says that he is not bitter, stating that “I’m past it. I just want to get something to eat right now and love my family.”
Wilson’s 96-year-old mother fought for the entirety of Wilson’s prison life to free him, and her efforts, joined by attorneys and students from the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent, culminated in his release.
Superior Court Judge Laura Priver ruled that Wilson was deprived of his constitutional rights to a fair trial when he was pointed out by Saladena Bishop. Furthermore, a friend of Bishop’s revealed that she had stabbed her boyfriend in the past, leading the police to designate her as an unreliable witness. This is further supported by the fact that Bishop once falsely filed a police report that accused someone of kidnapping and (attempted) rape. The Loyola student team revealed that none of this evidence had been supplied to Wilson’s defense attorney.
As Wilson walked out of the LA County jail, he was greeted by an army of cameras and reporters, but what he truly found gratitude in was reuniting with his daughter and sister and meeting his granddaughter for the first time. Wilson’s sister Gwen Wilson, with tears in her eyes, expressed her deep gratitude for the miracle of her brother’s release, stating that “We just needed to love on him and keep him encouraged through it all. All we can do is keep our head up you know that’s just it. We’ve always been a hopeful that one day…by the grace of God today is that day.”
Soon, Wilson will go to St. Louis to visit his mother for the first time in 32 years. We can only imagine the wave of emotions that the reunited family will wade through.
– Daniel Park (’17)
Featured Image: CNN