Following a four-year effort to exonerate Joseph Webster for his wrongful conviction of a 1998 murder, the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office has announced that it “no longer has confidence in the conviction of Mr. Webster” and recommends that “Mr. Webster’s conviction be vacated and the charges against him dismissed.” Acting on its Conviction Review Unit’s recommendation, the District Attorney’s Office filed a formal Notice of Intent to vacate and dismiss the charges against Mr. Webster on October 29, 2020. Mr. Webster’s exoneration will be the first in Nashville history since the Davidson County Conviction Review Unit was established in 2016.
“After a decade and a half in prison for a murder that he did not commit, I am overjoyed that Joseph Webster’s wrongful conviction will finally be overturned,” said Daniel Horwitz, Webster’s attorney. “Mr. Webster is immeasurably grateful to those who took the time to conduct a thorough reinvestigation of his case and see that this wrong was righted. Mr. Webster is also thinking of the entire Owens family at this time, which has to process the painful news of learning that the wrong person was convicted of committing this brutal murder.” A hearing that will enable Mr. Webster’s immediate release from prison is scheduled for November 10, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. Webster’s case also resulted in the Conviction Review Unit’s first reinvestigation of a potential wrongful murder conviction in Nashville’s history.
Webster’s conviction was formally vacated on November 10, 2020. He was released from prison the same day. Selected case documents and media coverage appear below.
Daniel Horwitz is an innocence and post-conviction attorney based in Nashville, Tennessee. If you would like to purchase a consultation from Horwitz, you can do so using the following form:
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Selected Case Documents:
*Order Granting Petition for Writ of Error Coram Nobis Vacating Conviction
–District Attorney’s Notice of Intent to Vacate
–Petitioner’s Motion to Reopen Post-Conviction Petition and Petition to Issue Writ of Error Coram Nobis
–District Attorney’s Response
Selected Media Coverage:
-USA Today: ‘Oh, it’s been so long’: Mother collapses with joy after wrongfully convicted son freed
-The Tennessean: Judge overturns murder conviction of Nashville man serving life in prison in 1998 case
-The Tennessean: Nashville DA’s office moves to overturn conviction of man serving life for 1998 murder
-New York Times: Imprisoned Nearly 15 Years, but Now Cleared of a Murder He Didn’t Commit
-NBC: Tennessee man freed after nearly 15 years in prison for wrongful murder conviction
-CNN: Tennessee man exonerated after serving 15 years for a murder he didn’t commit
-The Tennessean: Nashville judge hears arguments for dropping charges against Joseph Webster
-The Tennessean: ‘The conviction is wrongful’: Attorney discusses Nashville man’s life sentence case
-The Nashville Scene: DA’s Office Seeks Release for Nashville Man Convicted of 1998 Murder
-NPR-WPLN: Nashville District Attorney Agrees To Review Conviction In 1998 Murder Case
-NPR-WPLN: Investigation: After Pledging To Examine Innocence Claims, Nashville DA Has Yet To Open A Case
–New York Post: Tennessee man walks free after 1998 murder conviction is overturned
-People: Tennessee Man, 41, Exonerated After Judge Overturns 1998 Murder Conviction
-Channel 5: Joseph Webster adjusting to freedom after judge dismisses murder conviction
-Channel 4: Joseph Webster reunites with family after judge vacates murder conviction 14 years into prison sentence
-Fox 17: Nashville man imprisoned for murder for almost 15 years may walk free
-Fox 17: FERRIER FILES: Nashville murder conviction investigation to be reopened
-Fox 17: FERRIER FILES: Is Nashville man serving a life sentence innocent?
-Fox 17: FERRIER FILES: Imprisoned man’s DNA not on murder weapon
-Channel 5: Wrongful conviction requests are getting a second look
-The Tennessean: District attorney redesigns ‘burdensome’ process of searching for wrongful convictions