Nathan Wilson spent 11 months in jail on a murder charge before the DA dropped the case due to lack of evidence
by Jordan Green
Nathan Wilson walked out of the High Point jail at about 9 p.m. on Feb. 25, just as a winter weather system was about to dump about six inches of snow on the Carolina Piedmont, after exactly 11 months of detention on a murder charge since his first appearance in court on March 25, 2014. The decision came as a surprise to Dolly Manion, Wilson’s lawyer, who received a phone call at noon advising her to be in court at 2 p.m.
“This case has left a permanent scar on our system of justice,” Manion said. She added that the district attorney’s handling of the case amounts to a “travesty.”
Wilson, a 42-year old High Point man, walked free after the Guilford County District Attorney dismissed the charge due to lack of evidence last week.
Wilson had been charged with the murder of Gerald Williamson during a February 2014 party at a now-closed event center in east-central High Point. Manion, Wilson’s court-appointed lawyer, had raised pointed questions about the credibility of two witnesses whose statements formed the basis of the murder charge.
The DA’s office ultimately decided to voluntarily dismiss the murder charge and a related charge of possession of a firearm by a felon after DNA evidence returned from a private lab failed to establish a match between Wilson and shell casings recovered from the scene, Assistant District Attorney Matt Stockdale said.
“We were awaiting the return of the forensic evidence,” Stockdale said. “The forensic evidence was there were shell casings that were used to kill Mr. Williamson. We were awaiting the return of those shell casings, thinking — hoping — Mr. Wilson’s DNA would be on the shell casing. It was not. That doesn’t mean Mr. Wilson’s DNA wasn’t on the gun, but it means that somebody else at some point handled those shell casings.”
The voluntary dismissal means that Wilson can be re-charged if additional evidence emerges later to implicate him in the murder, Stockdale said.
Maj. Kenneth Shultz, chief of staff for the High Point Police Department, said in a statement provided to Triad City Beat that the police continue to investigate the crime, and would not be able to comment further on details of the investigation.
Wilson maintains his innocence, but Manion said her client would decline to comment on the murder charge until two unrelated felony charges are resolved. Wilson is also charged with assault on a female and common-law robbery based on allegations made by his girlfriend, who is the mother of his children. Manion said Wilson’s girlfriend has since said she doesn’t remember what happened, and she fully expects her client to beat the charges.
Stockdale said he didn’t see any problem with the DA’s decision to proceed with the case up to the point that the DNA evidence came back as inconclusive.
“The word on the street, which doesn’t help me much in the courtroom, is that everyone on the street says [Wilson] committed that murder,” Stockdale said. “And I believe he did.”
Gerald Williamson was shot and killed in front of numerous witnesses at Kenzie’s Event Center on Brentwood Street in the early morning hours of Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, according to police documents.
“There were over a hundred people in the club,” Stockdale said. “There were a lot of witnesses. The only two who were willing to come forward and testify have since, according to the defense, claimed they were not there.”