No History of Violence

Willie Manning’s history supports his claim that he has never committed murder. He had previous convictions, but never for violence. As one of his attorneys confirmed,
“He didn’t have any violent convictions. His criminal history was for things like theft.”

Willie also struck his friends as noticeably peaceful. One of them, Mary Prater, described Willie (sometimes known as Jerome) in an affidavit in 2001:
“Jerome was not someone who was considered violent or got into fights. I remember one time when Jerome was about 15 years old, we were all at the skating rink, and someone wanted to fight Jerome. Jerome, however, just walked away. That was basically how he was.”*

Another friend of the family, David Skato, described Willie as a nice guy who “wouldn’t bust a grape” and “would give you the shirt off his back”.**

This does not sound like the description of a murderer; on the contrary, it is consistent with Willie’s claim of innocence. We hope he is soon given the chance to demonstrate his innocence in his remaining case. He deserves to be granted a new trial.

*See Willie Jerome Manning’s Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, filed in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on October 8 2001, Exhibit 38 (pages 373 – 374 of pdf). 
**On the day before Willie’s scheduled execution in May 2013, Blog Talk Radio’s “The Other Side of Justice” featured a program about Willie, Dead Man Walking. The Willie Manning Case. In it Vincent Hill, a private investigator and ex-policeman, interviewed Willie’s childhood friend, David Skato, about the prosecution’s version of what happened when the two students were murdered. The interview does not start properly until 4 minutes into the recording. The passage about his childhood starts at 5.50.
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