A landscaper has served three years and three months of a life prison term after being convicted of a 1986 rape-burglary he apparently did not commit, officials said Wednesday.
Anthony Echols, 26, of Loganville, confessed Tuesday to a crime for which Willie Frank Williams was convicted in June 1987 after a two-day trial in Walton County Superior Court, said Loganville Police Chief Eddy Sharpe.Williams, suspected as not guilty by townspeople throughout his legal proceedings, was sentenced to life in prison for the rape of an elderly Loganville woman.
Police picked up Echols after reopening the investigation some six weeks ago for reasons they have not revealed.
"We had been watching him for a while, and we were thinking that he may have been the one responsible," Sharpe said.
"We picked him up when we got some fingerprint evidence back from the State Crime Lab and then we got the confession."
Echols is being held without bond at the Walton County Jail on charges of rape, burglary and aggravated assault. He faces additional charges, possibly for other 1986 burglaries.
The victim was the third elderly woman to be burglarized in a string of break-ins during the spring and summer of 1986 in the small town northeast of Atlanta.
Williams' sentence included 20 more years for aggravated assault, five years for possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony and 20 concurrent years on a burglary charge.
When he was convicted, then-District Attorney John Ott called the attack on the woman "brutal," saying he was not surprised with the severity of Williams' sentence.
Authorities are working on Williams' release from the Dodge County Correctional Institute in Chester, where he has served his time.