Jeffrey Dan Williams’ wild roller coaster ride through the federal judicial system came to an end Wednesday.
That’s when U.S. District Judge James Payne resentenced him after he pleaded guilty to drug charges dating back 18 years.
Payne gave Williams, 55, a term equal to the amount of time he has served, meaning he will be released.
“We got real fortunate,” said William Widell, his public defender.
Wednesday’s proceedings marked the second time since 2014 that Williams has been freed in the same criminal case.
The first occurred in April 2014 after Payne sided with an appeal by Williams and issued an order dismissing indictments and vacating a judgment and 35-year prison sentence against him. The judge ruled that Tulsa police officers — including several later convicted following an investigation into department corruption from 2008 to 2011 — manufactured evidence in order to secure Williams’ conviction and conducted an unconstitutional search and seizure of him the day he was arrested.
However, an appeals court ruled in June that Williams’ release was improper and ordered him back to federal prison, where he returned in September.
While sending him back to prison, the appeals court left the door open to Williams having a gun charge against him dismissed.
Williams subsequently challenged the gun charge, and Payne sided with his argument and ordered the charge dismissed in November.
With the gun charge vacated, Widell said, Payne had the discretion to resentence Williams on the three remaining drug-related charges, which he did on Wednesday.
“So, Judge Payne looked at it and said, ‘I don’t think that the evidence that he was sentenced on was reliable,’” Widell said, referring to the basis for the time-served sentence.
Williams, who jail records show has been in the Tulsa Jail since Dec. 9, was expected to be freed Wednesday. He will have to serve a five-year term of supervised release.
Williams’ sister, Susan Weatherman, said Wednesday that the family had been hoping the judge would exonerate her brother.
“But I’m grateful for what we got,” she said.