Donald, 47, was convicted of a murder and series of armed robberies that he steadfastly swore he did not commit. On January 25, a Lake County, Indiana court agreed, concluding that the State’s star witness against “Timmy,” as he is known, had been pressured by Gary police and prosecutors into falsely testifying at trial — and concealed evidence of Donald’s innocence. The court vacated his convictions, and prosecutors dismissed all charges in the case on January 27.
The turning point in the case was when Chicago Innocence Center Founder and President, David Protess, and two interns tracked down the witness in Florida. After extensive interviews, they persuaded her to testify at a deposition in Crown Point where she would finally tell the truth — that Donald was innocent and another man had committed the crimes.
Believing from the start that Skinner was the killer, the cops failed to investigate alternative suspect Robert Donnell, Twila’s uncle (now deceased). Donnell had molested her in the past, frightened her with crude sexual advances at a New Year’s Eve party less than an hour before the murders and vanished after she headed home. He was next seen scrubbing his pick-up truck from top to bottom on a frigid New Year’s Day.
The Chicago Innocence Center Board and staff are delighted to share the news that Willie T. Donald walked out of an Indiana prison January 28 a free man, after serving nearly 24 years for crimes he did not commit.
Donald’s exoneration is the fourth for the Center since its inception in 2011.
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