USA - Florida. Paul C. Hildwin freed after 35 years of incarceration, 29 of which on death row

11 March 2020 :

Paul C. Hildwin Freed After Nearly 30 Years on Death Row. After 35 years of incarceration, 29 of which were spent on death row, Pau Hildwin, 60, White, was released from the Hernando County Detention Center in Brooksville, Florida, on March 9. According to the Innocence Project, which represented and investigated Hildwin’s case, he was released with time served after pleading no contest to second degree murder, stemming from a 1985 case. Hildwin was originally sentenced to death in Hernando County in 1986 for the September 8, 1985 rape and murder of 42-year-old Vronzettie Cox. During the trial, prosecutors told jurors that the type of DNA found on Ms. Cox’s underwear and a washcloth at the scene was consistent with Mr. Hildwin’s. No evidence of a direct match was offered. Subsequent testing in 2003 made it clear the DNA did not match Mr. Hildwin. But it was not until 2010, when the Florida Supreme Court ordered the state to run the DNA against the national database, that a match was made: the DNA belonged to Cox's former boyfriend, William Haverty. In 2014 the Florida Supreme Court reversed Hildwin’s capital murder conviction and death sentence. In 1998, Haverty was convicted on multiple counts of sexual battery against a child younger than 12 years old. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Hildwin also is a convicted sexual predator dating back to when he lived in New York. That information was presented to jurors during the 1986 trial, which led them to recommend a death sentence for Hildwin. Ahead of retrial, in which prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty, Tampa criminal defense attorney Lyann Goudie negotiated the plea agreement, allowing for Hildwin to walk away with time served. While on death row, Hildwin survived 3 bouts of cancer, and a fourth recurrence while awaiting retrial, the Innocence Project said. He is in remission. A tweet from the Innocence Project said: “He said he was most looking forward to feeling grass under his bare feet for the first time in decades — and here he is doing exactly that. Join us in welcoming him home!”


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