Derrick Williams released after 18 years

BOWLING GREEN, Fla. - A Manatee County man who spent the last 18 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit was released from prison.

Derrick Williams walked out of the Hardee County Correctional Facility arm-in-arm with the team who helped free him. His family cheered as the ex-inmate made his way out and into the arms of his son and grandson.

Officials said new DNA evidence was enough to exonerate him.

The court also found Williams due proceess was violated by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, who destroyed evidence that could have excluded him as the rapist.

Williams said he isn't bitter and he described what happened when he heard the news he's waited 18 years to hear. "I fell out on the floor in there. I fell on the floor and thanked God for it," he said.

The state attorney's office said the right decision was made with the evidence they had.

They said retrying Williams would not be in the best interest of the victim who twice picked him out of a lineup.

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