Talent Recap

The Untold Story Of Archie Williams: Wrongly Incarcerated For 37 Years On ‘America’s Got Talent’

Meet Archie Williams Man Incarcerated For 37 YearsNBC

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Archie William made national headlines and his audition on May 26, 2020, sent shock waves all over the country — Not only for his breathtaking voice but the incredible story behind this man. Let’s take a deep look at the man that made America cry their hearts out and yet managed to give hope.


When Archie William stood on America’s Got Talent stage told us all that “I was just incarcerated for thirty-seven years for somebody else’s crime,” time stood still. We all felt his pain and he inspired us all but how did he get wrapped in a crime he did not commit?

10 Facts About Archie Williams That You Did Not Know

1. The Crime That Sent Archie To Prison

On December 9, 1982, a 31-year-old woman was in her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when she was raped and stabbed in her chest and abdomen. Now a very important aspect to remember is that on December 15, 1982, while still in the hospital, A.E., who was 5 feet 7 inches tall, said her attacker was 5 feet 9 to 5 feet 11 inches tall. She also helped police create a sketch.

2. The Weak Evidence Against Archie Williams

Now I want you to understand bogus the evidence against Archie was, Multiple times in a line-up, the woman couldn’t identify Archie and after multiple line-ups and rubbing Archie’s face time and time again in her face at every line-up, she somewhat identified there was a person in one of the lineups that strongly resembled her attacker, although you have to remember she did not make a positive identification.

She later picked 22-year-old Archie in the line-up and it might seem like the woman had finally found her attacker and she did in fact recognize Archie Williams but it is important to note that she had constantly been shown his face in multiple photographs where she was asked to constantly identify her attacker and this is a practice that would years later be condemned as suggestive.

A witness that was only 70 percent sure also identified him

She told the jury, “When I went into the lineup, there were six men, all about the same height, all about the same body build, all with approximately the same hairdo, all approximately the same age. So I was left with the impression of…eenie, meenie, miney, moe—just picking one. It could be almost at random. The things that I remembered were all the same.” She also testified that she had a first and second choice. Although she felt reasonably certain about her selection of Williams, she added she was only about 70 percent sure. So much for beyond reasonable doubt.

His alibis were tight that confirmed that he was not at the crime scene but at home instead but because it was his family, they didn’t take it seriously.

The police testified that fingerprints found in the bedroom did not belong to Williams and yet the fluids found on the crimes scenes were not enough to be conclusive.

3. Archie Williams’ Sentencing

Despite the weakest case possible, on April 21, 1983, the jury convicted Williams of attempted murder, aggravated rape, and aggravated battery. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. When his conviction was first appealed in 1984, one year after he was arrested, the Louisiana Court of Appeals shot it down. Archie’s only hope was the innocence project, which let me remind you is always flooded with requests and letters from people yet he pleaded and kept writing for 11 years.

“As the years go by, I sit here year after years, it’s like no one cares.”

“People let you down and no one cares after about the first 2 years.”

“I know that if only one of the people picked up my case and read it, they would know that I am not guilty, I am innocent. If I could get a DNA test, it would prove my innocence.”

I have been in Louisiana prison for 12 years and no one wants to help me because I don’t have any money. I’m trying hard because I know I am innocent.”

I know that people must write you all the time but if you could or would please find it in your heart to help me. I would appreciate any help that you could give, if its only readi9ng my case.

4. The Innocence Project

The Innocence Project finally in 1995, which is almost 11 years after being incarcerated, the Innocence Project in New York began re-examining his case and in 1996 filed a motion for DNA testing.

It kept getting denied and don’t ask me why because I am as angry as you are here and it was not until 2007 that an appeals court ordered the testing finally be done, so that’s almost 11 more years but that test did not help him because the only DNA they could identify in the system was of E.A’s husband, so it was all back to square one.

In 2014, there was more powerful and precise system for comparing fingerprints called the Next Generation Identification (NGI) and finally the prosecution agreed to submit the prints of the crime scene and Archie to NGI and that’s when they found that the finger prints actually belonged to another man called Forbes who did died in prison in 1996 for committing similar crimes in the area and since his fingerprints were in the old system that got transferred to the new system, they were able to identify 9 fingers on the crime scene to him.

5. Archie Williams Released From Prison

On March 21, 2019, the prosecution joined Williams’s attorneys in requesting that his convictions be overturned and the motion was granted, after 37 years of trying and all the charges were dismissed but before Archie was released, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III, told Williams in court: “As a representative of the state, I apologize.”

When he came out of the court he said, that “he will not be free, until others are free..”

His mission is to help innocent people like him get free. Ultimately filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages for his wrongful conviction, which even if he wins, it has a maximum of 250 thousand dollars. To put that in perspective, that’s not even minimum wage for every hour he spent in prison.


6. Archie Was On The Steve Harvey Show

On Steve Harvey show he said how he coped in prison was he trained in boxing and he won 9 different titles and he was champion in the prison and also his singing in prison. He said, “Throughout my incarceration at Angola, I sung. I sung gospel in the church, and started my own band. Music helped me get through prison.”

The next goal as he was released from prison for him was to teach his nieces and nephews music.


7. Archie’s Dreams After Being Free

Later in the year, Williams fulfilled his dream of performing at Amateur Night at the Apollo and the most difficulty he faced in the immediate months trying to acclimate to the world 36 years later.

“Today’s technology is really my hardest part of what’s going on in today’s society,” he said. “I’m learning … trying to get back into society like I once was.”

8. Archie Moved Simon Cowell To Tears

Because of his audition on America’s Got Talent, Simon Cowell was visibly moved and touched by Archie’s story and song choice.

Simon Cowell became an ambassador for the Innocence Project right after his audition and Simon rarely goes on social media but he took to Instagram to share Archie’s story.

9. Harassment Allegations Against Archie

Lovely Peaches, who has a shady reputation herself went on Instagram live and the man harassing her and making vulgar comments was later identified as Archie Williams. Again this should not define Archie but is a part of his story and you can read more about it here.

10. The Impact Archie’s Audition Had On the World

Thousands of people sent him letters of support and donation, in fact sir Elton John who sings ‘don’t let the sun go down on him’ Tweeted his support.

He wrote “I was moved to tears when I heard Archie’s story and saw him perform “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me”. The courage and forgiveness shown by him is truly inspiring. The same spirit that the world found so inspiring with Nelson Mandela. Love, E xx”

Let us know what you feel about this article

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Calling all Talent Enthusiasts!

Subscribe to the Talent Recap Newsletter for all Talent News, and/or subscribe to our EXCLUSIVE America's Got Talent Newsletter for all the latest AGT Scoop!

Enter your email address in the box below, click "Subscribe", and find the latest news delivered to your inbox weekly. Be prepared to experience the thrill, the drama, and the sheer talent that all of these shows have to offer!
Choose the news YOU want
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x