Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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William D. Avery



First Degree Murder


40 years

Years Imprisoned:


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Year Cleared:


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Judicially Exonerated Released

Summary of Case:

"William D. Avery was wrongly convicted in 2004 of committing first-degree reckless homicide in the death of a woman whose body was found on February 17, 1998 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Avery's conviction was based on two Milwaukee detectives, Gilbert Hernandez and Daniel Phillips, testifying that he confessed to them -- although there was no audio, video or signed confession -- and the testimony of jailhouse informants that he confessed to them. Avery was sentenced to 40 years in prison. On September 21, 2010 the charges were dismissed against Avery based on post-conviction DNA testing that excluded him as the woman's assailant. The DNA was matched to the profile of Walter E. Ellis, who in 2011 pled no contest to strangling seven women around Milwaukee from 1986 to 2007. Walter Ellis was sentenced to life in prison and he died in 2013. In December 2012 William Avery was awarded $25,000 compensation by Wisconsin's Claims Board, which was the maximum under the state compensation law. Avery filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee and the two detectives that alleged that violated his constitutional rights by fabricating his confession and intimidating inmates to corroborate it. On June 11, 2015 a jury awarded Avery $1 million in damages from the City of Milwaukee and the two Milwaukee police detectives."

Conviction Caused By:

Innocence Proved By:

"On September 21, 2010 Avery was exonerated based on post-conviction DNA testing that excluded him as the woman's assailant."

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:

"$1.025 mil. total. $25,000 (State of Wisconsin, Dec. 2012) ($1 mil. City of Milwaukee, 6-11-2015)"

Was Perpetrator Identified?

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Age When Released:





Information Source 1:

"Milwaukee must pay wrongfully convicted man $1 million, jury rules, By Gina Barton (Staff), Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wis.), June 11, 2015"

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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