NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After nearly 27 years of being caged in prison, Wednesday was a day one Tennessee inmate, his family and supporters have prayed for --- to be eligible for parole.
In 1994, Cyrus Wilson, then 17, was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder in the death of an Edgehill teen Christopher Luckett.
Wilson, now 44, continues to maintain his innocence while in prison.
The Tennessee Department of Corrections said Wilson was now eligible for his first parole hearing after earning and retaining program/work and good behavior credits.
Via a video-conference call, Tennessee Board of Parole member Gay Gregson listened to Wilson's statements on why she should vote to grant him parole.
During the hearing, Wilson's wife, attorney and friends spoke in front of Gregson also saying in part he would not be a threat to society once out on parole.
Wilson's mother, Valerie Ehinlaiye, cried while listening to her only son's supporters.
"I was out here praying everyday because I know when you have a child you want the best for your child. You want the best for your child and when you can't upbring them then you just have to let the Lord handle it so that's what I did," she said.
Wilson's younger sister, Venoice Wilson, said all she wants is to have her big brother home.
"He's loved by his family, my son loves him, everybody loves him and so he's a really good person and he really just needs to be home with his family," she said.
After the first parole hearing, Gregson voted for a “continuation” for the next 6 months regarding Wilson’s case. She did not vote to grant or deny parole. Her reasoning, Wilson needed to complete a TDOC risk assessment. Gregson stated the Public Safety Act of 2016 requires offenders to have an assessment, and without one she would not grant parole.
During the hearing Wilson's attorney, Dawn Deener, told Gregson that he did not take the assessment because of unusual circumstances.
"His circumstances are unusual. He cannot say that he did this and largely that is why he did not complete the strong-R risk assessment. Mr. Wilson and I spoke about that, it contains a significant number of questions about the offense itself and while he has a case pending on appeals seeking to get a new trial he cannot answer those questions under advice of counsel. That could come back and hurt him potentially. So it is that reason he did not complete the assessment not that he didn't want to do it," Deaner said.
In 1994, a jury found Wilson guilty in the fatal shooting case. Decades later, two alleged eyewitnesses recanted statements they made in which they said they saw the shooting. Wilson's attorney said there is now no physical or DNA evidence connecting Wilson to the shooting.