Mecklenburg County man released from prison after wrongful conviction

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Willie George Shaw was released from prison on Tuesday after serving nearly five years for a crime he said he didn’t commit. Shaw’s conviction was overturned in Mecklenburg County Superior Court.

In 2015, Shaw, a certified nursing assistant, was accused of sexually assaulting an 86-year-old woman while helping her bathe at the Charlotte-area assisted living facility where he worked. The woman was found bleeding in her bed and later died.

The Duke University School of Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic, which offers resources to help fight against convictions that it believes are erroneous, filed a motion in 2019, alleging Shaw received “insufficient counsel” and that medical experts concluded that the injury could not have occurred at the originally specified time.

A hearing in December revealed the woman’s injury had occurred nearly seven hours after the alleged time. An expert in geriatric medicine also testified that a video of the resident after 2:45 p.m. showed she exhibited no signs of injury at that time.

After three days of testimony and reviewing the evidence presented by the clinic, prosecutors agreed to overturn the conviction.

“All I can say is I’m happy. I’m thankful. I’m grateful,” Shaw told reporters outside the Mecklenburg County Jail. “I’m waiting to see my kids and my mom and trying to put my life back together.”

Shaw is the clinic’s fourth client in the last two years to be exonerated, along with Charles Ray Finch and Dontae Sharpe in 2019 and Ronnie Long in 2020. Collectively, the four men spent more than 115 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.