Murder Charges Dropped Against Man After 23 Years in Prison

William Richards was convicted of murdering his wife in 1993.

A man who spent 23 years in prison walked free on Tuesday after the San Bernardino District Attorney dismissed all charges against him.

William Richards met students from the California Western School of Law on Wednesday to thank them for helping get him exonerated.

He was convicted of murdering his wife in 1993 but he has maintained his innocence for more than 20 years.

“There are no words to describe what I’ve been through,” Richards said.

He told NBC 7 that all those years, he just wanted to prove what happened and that what kept him going.

“I think it was tenacity and refusing to let them get away with this,” he said.

Richards has had one day of freedom but he’s noticing the years of change that happened while he was in prison.

“The world has changed,” he said. “I’ve never been on the internet. I’ve never used a cell phone. I’ve never done any of those things.”

During his original trial, a dental expert influenced his conviction saying a bite mark on his wife matched Richards. That expert later admitted he had been wrong but Richards was not released from prison. The California Supreme Court stated that according to the law, expert testimony cannot be false.

That law was later changed by the San Diego-based California Innocence Project.

“If we believe someone is innocent, we're going to find a way,” said Justin Brooks from the California Innocence Project.

Richards has been a client of the California Innocence Project since 1999. He was granted parole earlier this year by the California Department of Corrections before the conviction was overturned.

More than 20 students and nearly a dozen lawyers from the California Innocence Project worked on Richards’ case over the span of 16 years. Their years of dedication to prove he was innocent paid off on Tuesday when all charges were dropped against him.

Richards told NBC 7 that the California Innocent Project became his family.

The San Bernardino District Attorney's Office told NBC 7 that they have not made a final decision on whether they will refile the case.

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