Where Is Willie T. Donald Now?

Willie T. Donald had no idea how the brutal murder of Bernard Jimenez on the night of February 27, 1992, would change his life forever. Although Willie was not involved in the crime, he was ultimately picked out of a lineup, charged, and wrongfully convicted of murder. Investigation Discovery’s ‘People Magazine Investigates: Alibi’ chronicles the whole incident and explores how it affected Willie’s life. If you are intrigued by this case and want to find out where Willie is at present, we have you covered.

Who Is Willie T. Donald?

A resident of Gary, Indiana, Willie T. Donald, led a quiet but happy life. Acquaintances described him as a kindhearted individual who always stood up for others and greeted everyone with a smile. Willie was quite hardworking and loved by most in his community. Besides, he was also pretty close to his family and loved spending time with his loved ones. Interestingly, he was out shopping for cars with his sister and her fiance (now husband) on the night of the murder.

On the night of February 27, 1992, Bernard Jimenez, his fiancee, Kimberly, and their three daughters were out to celebrate the children’s high grades. After spending a fun time at a local toy store, the family decided to get back and had almost reached their home when a masked gunman grabbed Bernand’s eldest daughter and held her at gunpoint, demanding money. The father of three immediately emptied his wallet and also asked the attacker to take whatever he wanted from the house.

Regardless, the assailant took things further and threatened to kill Bernard’s one-year-old daughter. The threat took the Gary resident past his breaking point, and he engaged in a physical altercation with the gunman. Sensing an opportunity, Kimberly rushed inside their home to find a gun, but she was too late, as the attacker shot Bernard twice in the chest before fleeing the scene.

Although first responders wasted no time reaching the location, Bernard was declared dead, and the police started a homicide investigation. Through their investigation, the police learned that the neighborhood Bernard lived in witnessed five armed robberies on the night of February 27, 1992. Thus, they set about creating a suspect list and came across Willie’s name. Interestingly, Willie did not have a criminal record but was wrongfully suspected of auto theft, which got his picture in the system.

Moreover, the people who were robbed described the robber as a thin black man with scars on his face, which did not fit Willie’s physique. Still, once put in a lineup, Kimberly and another robbery victim, Rhonda Williams, picked him out twice, while the three other victims claimed they did not recognize Willie. Though the law enforcement could not find a single piece of evidence linking Willie to the crime, yet he was arrested and charged with Bernard’s murder.

Where Is Willie T. Donald Now?

When produced in court, Willie T. Donald pled not guilty but was convicted of first-degree murder and two counts of armed robbery and given a 60-year sentence in 1992. However, in 2009, Rhonda Williams recanted her statement and claimed that she was led into choosing Willie from the lineup. Finally, in January 2016, Willie got his conviction overturned, and subsequently, all charges against him were dropped. All in all, Willie walked free after spending 23 years and ten months in prison.

After becoming a free man, Willie mentioned that being incarcerated for so long had a terrible effect on his mental health. He still lives in constant fear of being wrongly charged again and tries to keep his life as transparent as possible. In February 2016, shortly after walking out of prison, Willie crossed paths with Dr. Nicky Jackson, who has been his constant support through all these years. Nicky Jackson is an associate criminal justice professor at Purdue University Northwest who helped Willie buy a car and get a part-time job after his release.

Since then, the two also established The Willie T. Donald Exoneration Advisory Coalition in 2020, through which she helps Willie get in touch with other wrongfully convicted people and tries to ease them back into society. Besides, both Willie and Nicky hold their friendship in high regard. On the show, the latter even said, “I know there’s this man who truly cares about my family and me. And for that, I will forever be grateful. And I think through our friendship, there’s been a lot of great things that have happened as a result of our friendship.”

Read More: Where is Dr. Nicky Jackson Now?