Wrongfully incarcerated man’s application ‘meets requirements’ for compensation

Nathan Myers had murder conviction vacated in March 2019

Nathan Myers
Nathan Myers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A day after News4Jax obtained a letter from Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Office saying that a man’s petition for wrongful incarceration compensation did not meet the necessary requirements, a letter released Saturday states the opposite.

Nathan Myers was 18-years-old when he and his then 34-year-old uncle, Clifford Williams, both went to prison. They were convicted of shooting and killing a woman as she slept inside her apartment in New Town back in the 70s. Evidence from the State Attorney’s Office showed Myers and Williams were wrongly incarcerated.

On Friday, News4Jax obtained a letter from the Attorney General’s Office, signed by Associate Deputy Attorney General Carolyn Snurkowski, that read in part:

“... a petitioner must prove by clear and convicting evidence, scientific or not, that he is ‘factually innocent,’ i.e., that he did not commit the crime for which he was convicted or any crime based on the same set of facts used in that conviction. It is plainly evident that more is required to receive compensation than simply showing a conviction has been vacated.”

The opinion continued that the Attorney General’s Office “cannot conclude that Mr. Myers is innocent or that such a finding has been established.”

But, in a letter dated Feb. 15, 2020, Richard H. Martin, General Counsel at the Florida Department of Legal Affairs, wrote that he reviewed Snurkowski’s letter, which was written in January. He noted that the Department of Legal Affairs’ (DLA) role is “limited in making a determination whether a claim for compensation meets the requirements” for the Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Act.

He wrote in part:

"As the statute does not permit the DLA to reject an application due to procedural or evidentiary concerns with a court finding, the DLA will inform the Chief Financial Officer that the application meets the requirements of the statute and is complete.”

A second woman who was in the apartment was also shot, but survived and identified the Myers and Williams as the killers. It was the only evidence submitted at their trial in 1976.

In March 2019, both men had their convictions vacated. On Mar. 29, they walked out of the Duval County Courthouse to freedom.

READ: Fight continues for Jacksonville man freed after 4 decades in prison

A wrongfully convicted individual found innocent is entitled to compensation. Florida law requires them to receive $50,000 annually up to a maximum of $2 million, as long as they don’t have any prior felony convictions.

Williams, now 77, has two prior felony convictions: one for attempted arson in 1960 and another for robbery in 1966, making him ineligible for the compensation. Despite that, a state senator is pushing to make Williams an exception to the law, seeking to award him $2.5 million.

WATCH: Joy Purdy’s full interview with state Sen. Audrey Gibson

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