Innocence Inquiry Commission Holds Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | From the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission | Lindsey Guice Smith, Executive Director

On September 28-29, 2020, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission held a hearing in State v. Coatney Williams, 08 CRS 1057; 08 CRS 1059; 08 CRS 1065-66; 09 CRS 83; 09 CRS 85 (Northampton County).  The case arises from crimes committed on December 29, 2007.  On July 15, 2010, Coatney Williams was convicted, after a jury trial, of attempted murder, robbery, burglary, larceny of firearms which was consolidated with an Assault With Deadly Weapon Intent to Kill, and larceny after breaking and entering which was consolidated with possession of stolen goods.  On appeal, the North Carolina Court of Appeals vacated Mr. Williams’ judgments for felony larceny after breaking and entering, larceny of a firearm, and felony possession of stolen goods and remanded the case for resentencing on the Assault with Deadly Weapon with Intent to Kill.  Mr. Williams was sentenced to a range of approximately 42 to 52 years arising from this crime.

During the hearing, the Commission’s Executive Director, Lindsey Guice Smith, presented the case to the Commissioners. The Commission’s lead investigators on this case were Staff Attorneys Julie Bridenstine and Brian Ziegler. After carefully considering the evidence, the Commission unanimously concluded in that there was sufficient evidence of factual innocence to merit judicial review.  This case was referred forward for a hearing before a three-judge panel.  The Chief Justice of North Carolina Supreme Court, Cheri Beasley, will appoint a panel of three superior court judges to hear the case in Northampton County.

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission is a state agency charged with investigating post-conviction claims of factual innocence. The agency was created by the General Assembly in 2006 and began operations in 2007. The Commission is the first and only of its kind in the country. Since 2007, over 2800 clams have been submitted and review by the Commission.  The Commission has held 17 hearings.  Twelve individuals have bene exonerated as a result of the Commission’s investigations.  In addition, there are currently nine individuals whose cases are awaiting final adjudication by a post-Commission three-judge panel.

For more information, please contact the Commission’s Executive Director, Lindsey Guice Smith, at (919) 890-1580 or You may also find more information on the Commission’s website at