Joyce Watkins had been on parole since 2015, but it wasn’t until Wednesday when she was exonerated, that she was truly free. She spent 27 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated rape.
On June 26, 1987, Joyce Watkins, now 74, and her boyfriend at the time, Charlie Dunn, went to pick up Watkins four-year-old great-niece, Brandi, in Kentucky, according to a report filed with the Davidson County Criminal Court.
The next morning Brandi was unresponsive, so Watkins took her to Nashville Memorial Hospital.
Brandi suffered from severe vaginal injury and head trauma. She was pronounced dead the following day, the report stated. The two were with Brandi for only nine hours, but the medical examiner, Dr. Gretel Harlan, concluded the injuries were sustained during that time.
A year later, in August 1988, Watkins and Dunn were convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated rape.
The two spent 27 years behind bars before they were both granted parole in 2015.