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From Child To Adult, Behind Bars

Courtesy of Will Jimerson
Will Jimerson at 6 years old and today

On March 10, 1994, Will Jimerson was 13 years old. He was hanging out around 23rd and Cherry in Seattle's Central District at 1 o'clock in the morning with a group of other kids. By this point in his life, he had already had a few run-ins with the law, including assault with a deadly weapon and theft.

On this particular early morning, Will says he found a gun in a jacket.

There are different versions of what happened next. Jimerson says he pointed the gun into the crowd, pulled the trigger and heard a popping sound. He says he didn’t know that another young teen, 14-year-old Jamie Lynn Wilson, was dead, from two gunshots to her back, until the next day when word of the murder started to spread in the neighborhood.

Witnesses linked Jimerson to the crime. He was tried as an adult. Will said he was innocent. Prosecutors built a case that portrayed Jimerson as a predator in the making — a cold-blooded killer who murdered Jamie Lyn Wilson as she pleaded for her life. The judge agreed and sentenced him to 23 years in prison.

Since he was only 13, he was placed in solitary confinement for his own protection.  

Will Jimerson has been out of prison for almost 3 years. He’s working and going to school. He says one of the most common questions he gets is, “When did you change for the better?”  He says that enough years have gone by and he simply grew up.

Today he’s married and has two little girls. His daughter's lives are already so different from how his began.

Kevin Kniestedt is a journalist, host and producer who began his career at KNKX in 2003. Over his 17 years with the station, he worked as a full time jazz host, a news host and produced the weekly show Sound Effect. Kevin has conducted or produced hundreds of interviews, has won local and national awards for newscasts and commentary.