CHICAGO (CBS) — A prosecution witness who helped put a Chicago man in prison is now saying his testimony was a lie–all because the man embarrassed him.
In 2006, Mario Wilson was convicted of shooting and wounding a man on the South Side in 2004. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Today, he’s 28, sitting in prison, but hopeful that he will be released soon after eight years behind bars, now that a key witness has admitted he made up testimony that implicated Wilson in the crime.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser Reports
“It’s almost over, it’s almost over,” Mario’s brother, Capricio Wilson said Wednesday.
He and their mother, Felicia Skipper, said they hope they will soon be reunited with Mario, after eight years.
“It’s a nightmare. I mean, I would never want anyone to endure the pain that I endure,” Skipper said.
It’s pain that started in 2006, when Wilson was sentenced to 12 years in prison for shooting another man. Skipper said she always knew her son was innocent.
“He was home with me the whole time,” she said.
Mario Wilson’s attorney, Jason Kopec, said after a court hearing on Wednesday: “The person whose testimony was used to secure his conviction has finally come forward after all these years and indicated that it was all false and Mario Wilson was not involved.”
The witness is David Griffin, who is now in prison himself. He now says he made up his statements because Wilson beat him up in front of his friends and embarrassed him.
“He contacted the family of Mario Wilson to indicate that he was willing to come forward and tell the truth,” said Kopec. “It was out of the blue.”
He’s come forward with a sworn affidavit, stating: “I lied and told police that Mario Wilson was the shooter in Dennis Smith’s shooting, when in fact I didn’t actually know who did the shooting.”
The shooting happened at 55th Street and Indiana Avenue. Griffin now says he never saw Wilson in the area the night of the shooting, but made up the story because Mario had publicly beaten him up, embarrassed him.
“It was basically a revenge situation, where he made this up to get back at Mario,” Kopec said.
Capricio Wilson said his brother talked of suicide at least three times over the past eight years, but he always talked Mario out of it by focusing on the two children he’s been forcibly separated from – children who are excited that their dad might soon be coming home.
“It’s been hard for his two kids, who are always asking about their father. It’s not good for their kids to see their father in jail, especially for something that he didn’t do,” Capricio said. “You can just see the joy on their face that they have that their dad will have time with them, to spend, [after] those years that he missed.”
Skipper said those missed years left a giant hole in her life.
“Words couldn’t even describe how much I have missed him. It’s like they took something from me,” she said.
Skipper has always said the her son wasn’t the shooter; that he was with her on that night.
“I am very hopeful because the truth comes to the light at the end,” said Wilson’s mother, Felicia Skipper. “All I can do is pray. It was unbearable for a parent to go through that.”
Prosecutors are now reviewing the case. The next hearing is in August, when the judge will consider Mario Wilson’s petition to be set free.