Family of Man Who Wrongfully Spent 28 Years in Prison Receives $28M Settlement One Year After His Death
The family of a Kentucky man who spent 28 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit has received the largest settlement in the state’s history.
William Virgil spent three decades professing his innocence in the 1987 murder of a Veterans Administration nurse in Newport, Kentucky. Last week, the city of Newport finally settled his wrongful conviction with a record-setting pretrial amount of $28 million, Courier-Journal reports.
The settlement comes over one year after Virgil died inside a hotel room in Cincinnati the night before a medical checkup. He was just shy of his 70th birthday and had been ill since his release from prison.
While Virgil didn’t live to receive his hefty settlement, his family is set to receive $28 million to settle his wrongful conviction lawsuit. It equates to $1 million for each year Virgil spent behind bars.
“William couldn’t live long enough to see justice,” Virgil’s attorney Elliot Slosar said.
“William as a human being and William’s case will have caused a significant change in the criminal justice system.”
The wrongful conviction stemmed from the 1987 rape and stabbing death of Retha Welch, 54, a Newport grandmother and prison minister who was murdered inside her apartment.
Virgil declared his innocence from the beginning and demanded DNA testing, where three semen specimens failed to match the man imprisoned for the rape and murder. In 2015, his conviction was overturned.
Virgil sued the city and police for wrongful conviction in 2016 and had his civil trial set for 2021 before it was delayed so officers could appeal, WCPO reports. He ended up passing away before the settlement was reached.
“We’ve spent the last half decade trying to show how William was framed for a crime he didn’t commit,” Slosar said.
“Our team did dozens of depositions and we got documents from all these police departments that were never turned over, and eventually, we were granted a trial.”