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Woman Exonerated After Being Falsely Jailed For 27 Years Opens Up On Everything She Lost

Woman Exonerated After Being Falsely Jailed For 27 Years Opens Up On Everything She Lost

In 1998, Joyce Watkins was wrongfully convicted of the murder of her great-niece, Brandi, but has now been exonerated

In 1998, Joyce Watkins and her boyfriend, Charlie Dunn, were wrongfully convicted of the murder of her four-year-old great-niece, Brandi.

Both were handed life sentences in a Tennessee prison, but in December 2021 Watkins and Dunn – who died in 2015 – were exonerated.

Watkins, now 74, has now spoken about her conviction and detailed how ‘awful’ it was to see all she’d worked for simply ‘go down the drain’.

Watkins sat down for an interview with CBS this month, and when asked what she’d lost as a result of her wrongful conviction, she told correspondent Erin Moriarty: “I lost my family, my friends, everything I’d worked for.”

Watkins went on: “My good paying job, all of my savings. [The] nice clothes that I had. The diamonds, pearls. I lost all of it. And I worked so hard to get it.”

Asked directly about her family, Watkins added: “I lost four brothers. A sister. I had 13 aunts and uncles, I only have one left. She’s 96. I lost a lot of cousins, nieces, nephews.

“When I lost my four brothers and sisters I knew I had lost everything. But I have two sisters left.”

Just over halfway through the interview, Moriarty said to Watkins: “You’ve got your freedom back, but the state can’t give you back what you lost for being wrongfully convicted.”

Watkins agreed: “They can’t give me those years back.”

It was then revealed that in 1997, a year before Watkins’ conviction, she had been thinking about adopting. 

Watkins was handed a life sentences in a Tennessee prison.

Watkins responded: “Yes I was. All of my sisters and brothers have kids but me. I wanted to add one more to the family. I was probably about a month [away from having a child come and stay with me].”

She went on: “I was very excited. I had bought furniture, fixed the room up. I had three bedrooms upstairs, a bathroom, living, dining room, a kitchen downstairs. 

“You know, I just wanted a little kid to run through the house like my nieces and nephews. But I lost all of it.”

Watkins was told by a district attorney in a Tennessee courtroom last year that she had finally been found innocent. 

Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk told her: "I want to say to both Ms. Watkins, and to the family of Charlie Dunn, that I believe they were actually innocent."

After the death of Dunn in 2015, Watkins was granted parole and released from prison after spending 27 years behind bars.

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Featured Image Credit: CBS Sunday Morning/YouTube

Topics: Crime