From false imprisonment to “America’s Got Talent” via Long Beach – Press Telegram

In March, Archie Williams auditioned for the 2020 season of “America’s Got Talent” (AGT).

Before he sang, he mentioned that he had spent 36 years in a Louisiana jail for against the law he didn’t commit.

Williams’s soulful voice and touching backstory introduced all 4 movie star judges to their toes. Heidi Klum wiped away tears and pre-COVID viewers members chanted his title. Simon Cowell mentioned Williams’s audition was one he’ll always remember.

After being chosen for AGT, which movies at Universal Studios, Williams got here to Long Beach to keep along with his aunt. Saundra Christmas and her daughter, Cassaundra Christmas, supported Williams by means of many rounds of competitors. And he supported them.

On May 31, looters attacked Saundra’s retailer in downtown Long Beach, Mabel’s Gourmet Pralines. Williams fearlessly entered the store and rescued her gear.

In describing the night, Williams mentioned, “I didn’t think about the outcome. It didn’t matter, because it’s family.”

Williams mentioned he and his household have at all times been there for each other. In 1982, 22-year-old Archie discovered himself embroiled in a authorized nightmare after a girl from a distinguished Louisiana household was stabbed and raped. The sufferer struggled to make an identification and described her attacker as being 5-foor-9 to 5-foot-11-inches tall. A controversial photograph ID led to the arrest of 5-foot-Four Archie Williams. Saundra Christmas went to Louisiana for the trial and was heartbroken when he was sentenced.

Williams refused to let his thoughts be imprisoned, although his physique was. He mentioned he sang and prayed because the years went on. He would watch “America’s Got Talent” and visualize himself being on stage.

In 1995, Williams realized in regards to the Innocence Project, a company that works to free the wrongly incarcerated. The group sought to have fingerprints from the crime scene analyzed, however its requests had been repeatedly refused.

“It was a malicious process,” Cassaundra mentioned. “Everything they filed was denied.”

Cassaundra at the moment works as a paralegal and plans to attend legislation faculty. She mentioned she grew up listening to about Archie’s case and was decided to struggle for his freedom. Luckily, her purpose has already been achieved. In 2019, a brand new decide permitted Next Generation Identification (NGI) evaluation of the fingerprints in Archie Williams’s case.

“Within 24 hours, the database found that the fingerprints belonged to a serial rapist in the area,” Cassaundra mentioned.

On March 21, 2019, Archie Williams’ conviction was vacated. He was launched after serving 36 years for another person’s crime.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III, advised Williams in courtroom, “As a representative of the state, I apologize.”

Despite shedding many years of his life, Archie Williams is specializing in the optimistic. He mentioned being a Top Ten Finalist on “America’s Got Talent” was one of the best factor that has ever occurred to him. He beloved having the chance to sing and inform his story. Now that taping has concluded, he desires to use his time to assist different harmless prisoners acquire their freedom. Cowell has pledged to do the identical.

“There are thousands of innocent people in jails and prisons,” Cowell mentioned. “I’m honored to become an Ambassador for the Innocence Project and want to do what I can to help more people like Archie.”

Cowell is just not the one movie star impressed by Archie Williams. After listening to Williams’s rendition of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” Sir Elton John known as and invited Archie to sing with him when his U.S. tour resumes. Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, taped a message saying that she is happy with Archie and he or she can’t wait to see what he does.

But Williams’s greatest followers are the members of the family, who’ve at all times been by his facet. Saundra Christmas supported her nephew throughout his trial and his exoneration.

“It was such a blessing to witness Archie’s release from prison to start his new life of freedom and to live his life-long dreams,” Saundra mentioned.

She helped him relaunch his life and he helped her relaunch her enterprise. Because household is every thing.

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