59-year-old Archie Williams blew everyone away during the latest audition round of America’s Got Talent. The American was convicted in 1983 of a rape he had not committed and served 37 years in prison. Behind bars, Williams was a loyal viewer of the popular talent show, longing to one day participate. His dream came true this week: after his audition, Archie was treated to a standing ovation and a hug from judge Simon Cowell.
After an unwarranted prison sentence of 37 years, Archie Williams is now a free man again. On stage of ‘America’s Got Talent’ he looked back on the terrible period he has had. “I couldn’t believe it was really happening,” he said of his arrest for rape in 1983. I knew I was innocent. I didn’t commit a crime. But as a poor black boy, I didn’t have the financial capacity to compete with the state of Louisiana.”
Despite forensic evidence and testimony confirming Williams’ innocence, he was sentenced to life imprisonment at the age of 22. “They wanted someone to pay the price,” Archie told judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Howie Mandel. “But I never let my mind go to prison.”
Williams’ case was taken into the hands of the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to wrongfully convicted in the 1990s. Finally, a fingerprint analysis in 2019 could prove its innocence. The man was released in March last year.
All these years in prison, Archie dreamed of participating in the talent show as a loyal viewer of the show. That dream came true now: after an impressive and emotional version of Elton John’s ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’, Williams was treated not only to a ticket to the next round, but also to a standing ovation from the jury and the hall. Simon Cowell was so touched by the performance that he took to the stage for a big hug, while the audience cheered and cheered him on.