"Rebuilding the Lives of the Wrongfully Convicted"

Cedric Willis


cedricwillis Convicted of: Murder and Armed Robbery
State: Mississippi
Served: 12 years
Released: 2006
Compensated by State: $500,000 over 10 years 
Current Status: Working on occasional projects for uncle’s construction business, living with mother.
Health Insurance:

Then: In 1994, Cedric Willis was 19 years old, a young man with no criminal record, and the father of a newborn son. He was also in jail, under arrest for rape, murder, and robbery. When DNA evidence proved that Cedric could not possibly have committed the rape, that charge was dropped—but that same DNA evidence, which also suggested that Cedric wasn’t at the crime scene at all, was disallowed during the trial. Conflicting eyewitness identifications and procedural irregularities were similarly ignored. Thus in 1997, Cedric was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life plus ninety years. In 2005, the Innocence Project New Orleans succeeded in getting Cedric’s conviction reversed and a new trial ordered. On March 6, 2006 a judge ruled the eyewitness identifications inadmissible. All charges against Cedric were dismissed.

Now: Cedric now lives in Jackson, Mississippi with his mother. He has been reunited with his family, including his 12 year old son, and is doing well. During a recent interview, Cedric said “I have an incredible sense of freedom. Every morning, I wake up happy.” His only regret is that his grandmother did not live to see him proved innocent. LAEP has helped Cedric by providing clothing, medication, the opportunity to meet other exonerees, and crucial moral support. As Cedric put it, “I love those people. They believed me; that’s the most important thing.”

In addition to Cedric's recent state compensation agreement, he is suing the city of Jackson and four individuals he asserts were responsible for his wrongful incarceration. Jackson claims that the city officials are immune from such charges and is in the process of appealing the case. Immunity for city officials is often invoked by states when those wrongfully convicted seek compensation through lawsuits. Cedric is suing for $36 million which his lawyer says is just a starting point.   

Hometown: Jackson, Mississippi


  • Full-time employment.