“We were paid to lie and say that he did it.”

In the course of the Al Jazeera program, Flawed Forensics (episode 3 in the Al Jazeera series, The System), the documentary team investigates Willie’s second case, involving the murder of two elderly African American women in 1993. The program highlights the revelations of a trial witness in this case; these cast doubt on how Willie has been treated by the system. The witness is Likeesha Harris (former girlfriend of Kevin Lucious, who testified as the key trial witness against Willie). She tells what happened after the murders:

“When the two elderly ladies were killed the murders took place in Brookville Garden and it’s like five minutes away from me. My baby’s dad was in my life. His name was Kevin Lucious. The police got in touch with Kevin in St Louis, Missouri. He was being charged on a double murder. (Sheriff) Dolph Bryan and they went up there and spoke with Kevin and said they could get him off the murder charges up there if he cooperated with a murder trial that’s going on down here.

“Dolph Bryan and Forrest Allgood (prosecutor) he came by and said they was going to charge me and Kevin with the murders if we didn’t cooperate. And so I told them I didn’t know anything. And they told me they knew I had a newborn baby and it was real intimidating thinking I was going to lose my child. And they was making me feel like I was going to be in jail for a long time. They wanted me to write out a statement stating that I was living in the Garden, and that me, Kevin and my daughter was looking out the window and that we witnessed Fly, Willie Manning, kick open – get into the door and run out with bloody clothes on. And… that wasn’t true. I didn’t witness nothing. I didn’t follow anyone.

“But I know for a fact that he… did not kill those two black ladies because we were paid to lie and say that he did it.”

Likeesha Harris becomes emotional as she recounts her regret at what she did under pressure when she was young and vulnerable:

“But I did apologise to him for what I had … what I had … what my boyfriend had done … to make him … to do all these years … I did apologise because I was sorry, but I was young at the time and I was scared and I didn’t know what else to do, and I didn’t want to go to jail and I had me a baby.”

To make it plain that this witness is not lying now, the program reveals police canvass notes made in the days following the murders; these substantiate her account (see page 36 of the document). They show that Likeesha Harris and Kevin Lucious were not living in Brookville Garden at the time of the murders.  (The murders occurred on January 18, 1993; Harris and Lucious moved into Apartment 11-E on February 1, 1993; Apartment 11-E was vacant when the murders happened. The police canvass notes were not disclosed by prosecutors to Willie’s trial counsel.)

Both Likeesha Harris and Kevin Lucious formally recanted their trial evidence in 2011.  An interview with the Sheriff was requested during the making of the documentary, but he declined.

This case is currently being considered by the Mississippi Supreme Court; you can read about both Willie’s cases on the home page of this website.

Although Likeesha Harris has previously recanted her trial testimony in court, her interview in this documentary makes that recantation more powerful. We are very grateful to her for deciding to publicize her earlier perjury, though this is something that clearly still gives her both pain and regret.

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