State v. Williams

About the Case

In State v. Williams, the Commission conducted a hearing on June 4-7, 2019 for two cases related to two different convictions for claimant Merritt Williams, State vs. Merritt Williams Drayton (Forsyth – 86 CRS 018809 – Wilson) and State vs. Merritt Williams Drayton (Forsyth – 86 CRS 031738 – Bryson).

The Commission concluded in that there was sufficient evidence of factual innocence to merit judicial review in State vs. Merritt Williams Drayton (86 CRS 031738 – Bryson). This case was referred forward for a hearing before a three-judge panel. Please contact the Forsyth County Clerk of Court regarding information about the three judge panel.

The Commission concluded that there was not sufficient evidence of factual innocence to merit judicial review in State vs. Merritt Williams Drayton (86 CRS 018809 – Wilson).

In lieu of the case being heard by a three-judge panel, Assistant District Attorney Ben White and Mr. Williams’ attorney Julie Boyer consented to a motion for appropriate relief, which vacated Mr. Williams’ conviction for murder and allowed him to take an Alford Plea to breaking and/or entering. An Alford Plea “is when a defendant maintains his innocence but admits that the state has sufficient evidence to convict him and agrees to be treated as guilty.” See North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25 (1970). On June 16, 2022, Mr. Williams accepted the Alford Plea and was sentenced to three years on the breaking and/or entering conviction. That sentence retroactively began on August 4, 1987. Mr. Williams is currently incarcerated on another, unrelated sentence.

The documents presented at the Commission hearing became public record and are included here. The court sealed some documents from the public record and also ruled that certain photos would not be published on the Commission’s website. Those photos are available at the Forsyth County Clerk’s office. In addition, the Commission’s Alternate Chair ruled that though the Wilson case closed, because the Bryson case moved forward, all documents considered by the Commission at the hearing would be made public at the Bryson case.

The transcript of the Commission hearing is available for viewing ONLY. If you would like to purchase a printed copy of the hearing transcript, please contact Tori Pittman at (919) 931-6222 or [email protected]

For more information about Alford Pleas, go to: