A 74-year-old woman spent 27 years in prison for a murder she didn't commit. This week she was exonerated


On June 26, 1987, Joyce Watkins, now 74, and her boyfriend on the time, Charlie Dunn, went to select up Watkins four-year-old great-niece, Brandi, in Kentucky, in keeping with a report filed with the Davidson County Criminal Court.

The subsequent morning Brandi was unresponsive, so Watkins took her to Nashville Memorial Hospital.

Brandi suffered from extreme vaginal harm and head trauma. She was pronounced useless the next day, the report said. The two have been with Brandi for solely 9 hours, however the medical expert, Dr. Gretel Harlan, concluded the accidents have been sustained throughout that point.

A 12 months later, in August 1988, Watkins and Dunn have been convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated rape.

The two spent 27 years behind bars earlier than they have been each granted parole in 2015.

Before his launch, Dunn, sadly, handed away in jail.

Charlie Dunn was waiting for his parole hearing in 2015 when he suddenly passed away in jail.

Prior to Brandi being picked up by the couple, she was residing on the dwelling of Rose Williams, Brandi’s great-aunt. Brandi’s mom was in Georgia on the time.

Throughout that interval, a Kentucky Department of Social Services employee visited the house after receiving a report Brandi had been abused.

Williams defined Brandi’s accidents Brandi have been as a result of a playground mishap, and the investigation was closed.

Clearing her identify

Now 35 years later, Watkins has been exonerated after she made it a level to clear her identify.

Dunn was additionally cleared of the crime and posthumously exonerated.
His daughter, Jackie Dunn, was on the listening to on Wednesday. “I wish my daddy was here to witness this day,” she mentioned. “He knew he was innocent, he knew he did not commit those crimes,” Dunn said to NCS affiliate WTVF.
Watkins received assist from the Tennessee Innocence Project and the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office.

“We got this case because she (Joyce) came to us,” Jason Gichner, senior authorized counsel with the Tennessee Innocence Project instructed NCS. “She just showed up at the office and said, ‘Let me tell you my story. I need your help.’ “

The report was filed on November 10, 2021, asking that the pair’s convictions be vacated.
Joyce Watkins spent 27 years in jail and was released on parole in 2015.

The submitting clarified Watkins seen blood in Brandi’s underwear after they arrived dwelling, solely an hour and a half after the couple picked her up, with a minimum of an hour of that point spent driving again to Nashville.

A report from Dr. Shipla Reddy was additionally included in the submitting, who mentioned Dr. Harlan’s “methodology for dating the head injury based upon a lack of histiocytic response in the brain tissue is not a legitimate method for dating pediatric head trauma.”

He was wrongly convicted of murder as a teen. After fighting for 26 years, his name has finally been cleared

The ruling famous Harlan conceded the error in her methodology years after the trial.

“Joyce Watkins and Charlie Dunn are innocent,” District Attorney Glenn Funk instructed NCS, “We cannot give Ms. Watkins or Mr. Dunn their lost years but we can restore their dignity; we can restore their names. Their innocence demands it.”

According to Sunny Eaton with the District Attorney’s Office, Watkins is the primary black woman to ever be exonerated in the state and solely the third woman in Tennessee historical past.

“Miss Watkins, this charge against you is dismissed,” Davidson County Criminal Court Judge, Angelita Blackshear Dalton, mentioned Wednesday morning, in keeping with WTVF.

As far as Watkins or Dunn’s household getting compensated for their wasted time spent in jail, Gichner mentioned he’s uncertain of what’s going to occur down the highway.
In a remark to the media and NCS affiliate WZTV Watkins mentioned, “I thank all the people for their prayers and helping me get out of this mess which has cost me half of my life for nothing, But I’ll get over it.”



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