On June 26, 1987, Joyce Watkins, now 74, and her then-boyfriend Charlie Dunn picked up Watkins’ four-year-old grandniece Brandi in Kentucky, according to a report filed with Davidson County. Criminal Court.
The next morning, Brandi was unresponsive, so Watkins took her to Nashville Memorial Hospital.
A year later, in August 1988, Watkins and Dunn were convicted of first degree murder and aggravated rape.
Prior to his release, Dunn sadly died in prison.
Before Brandi was picked up by the couple, she was living with Rose Williams, Brandi’s great-aunt. Brandi’s mother was in Georgia at the time.
Throughout this time, a Kentucky Department of Social Services worker attended the home after receiving a report that Brandi had been abused.
Williams explained that Brandi Brandi’s injuries were the result of a playground accident and the investigation has been closed.
Erase his name
Now, 35 years later, Watkins has been exonerated after insisting on clearing her name.
“We got this case because she (Joyce) came to see us,” Jason Gichner, senior legal counsel for the Tennessee Innocence Project, told CNN. “She just showed up at the office and said, ‘Let me tell you my story. I need your help. “
The filing said Watkins noticed blood in Brandi’s underwear when they arrived home, only an hour and a half after the pair picked her up, with at least an hour of that time spent in return to Nashville.
A report by Dr. Shipla Reddy was also included in the filing, which stated that “Dr. Harlan’s methodology for dating head trauma based on a lack of histiocytic response in brain tissue is not a legitimate method for dating a pediatric head trauma”.
The ruling noted that Harlan admitted the error in his methodology years after the trial.
“Joyce Watkins and Charlie Dunn are innocent,” District Attorney Glenn Funk told CNN. “We cannot restore Mrs Watkins or Mr Dunn their lost years, but we can restore their dignity; we can restore their names. Their innocence demands it.”
“Miss Watkins, this charge against you is dismissed,” Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton said Wednesday morning, according to WTVF.