MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WTAQ) - Milwaukee County prosecutors will review 2,100 murder convictions over the last 18 years, to see if new DNA tests could cast doubt on those outcomes. That’s after a judge ordered another inmate to be freed Monday.
38-year-old William Avery was the 3rd prisoner to wrongly do time for a homicide which new DNA tests linked to alleged serial killer Walter Ellis. Avery spent 5 years behind bars for the 1998 strangulation death of 39-year-old Maryetta Griffin. He was convicted in 2005, and was sentenced to 40 years.
Last month, Avery asked prosecutors to test Griffin’s DNA, saying it would prove his innocence. That test turned up Ellis’s DNA. He’s scheduled to stand trial in October in the murders of 7 other Milwaukee women over a span of 21 years.
Officials say the police should have identified Ellis from the start in its investigation of the Griffin murder. But he was among 17,000 Wisconsin convicts who escaped a requirement from 2000 that he submit his DNA to a statewide police database. A state Corrections’ Department task force has been trying to catch up with those criminals since last year – and they’ve received over 7,000 samples so far.