The Case Against Billy

#3- Ineffective Counsel

Timothy McKenna, Billy’s public defender had never dealt with a criminal case before, let alone a murder case. McKenna explained to Billy that a testimony from Lyles would seal Billy’s fate. 

Billy, stranded without money, hope, or counsel accepted the plea deal offered. Billy was left exploited and unable to prove his innocence through trial in a court that should’ve assumed his innocence from the beginning.

Plea bargaining is a constitutional crisis;

it causes false convictions, covers up police misconduct, and facilitates mass incarceration. For example, prosecutors pile on charges to force defendants to choose between risking high-sentences at trial and pleading to lesser charges even if they are innocent. Plea bargaining also exacerbates racial inequalities and systemic injustice as Black defendants are less likely to see charges dropped and less likely to receive favorable plea deals.

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Quick Facts



of felony convictions in the United States are obtained throught guilty pleas.


of known exonerees pleaded guilty to crimes they did not commit.


of 418 exonerees who pleaded guilty were people of color.