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Winston-Salem 5: What’s next after judges deny innocence claim

The judges ruled Thursday there was not enough evidence to grant them innocence.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Two men convicted in the death of NBA star Chris Paul's grandfather are speaking out after a three-judge panel upheld their convictions. The two men already served time and are currently out of jail. They said they will not give up despite the innocence claim denial.

The men’s convictions still stand after nearly two weeks in court during the hearing. The judges ruled Thursday there was not enough evidence to grant them innocence. This means their charges will remain and the other two men who are still in jail will remain behind bars. Their attorneys said they’ll file post-conviction motions.

“If we have to keep going, we're gonna keep going. We're gonna take every step until they free us from the charge because we didn't do it," Christopher Bryant said. "I hope they find closure but they're not getting it with us, because we're not the people that did it. We should've never been locked up, but I feel sorry for everybody that thinks that they got the right people,” Jamel Tolliver said.

Paul's grandfather, 61-year-old Nathaniel Jones, was found beaten to death in the carport of his Winston-Salem home in November 2002 - one day after he'd seen his grandson commit to playing basketball for Wake Forest University.

Two years after the killing, brothers Rayshawn Banner and Nathaniel Cauthen were convicted of murder and robbery. In 2005, police arrested three others. All five were teenagers at the time of Jones' death, and all have stood by their innocence. They'd later be known as the 'Winston-Salem 5.' One of the men convicted, Dorrell Brayboy, died in 2019. He was stabbed shortly after he was released from prison.

Paul’s family spoke Thursday following the decision. “I consider this that we are done. We’re done. Hopefully, we can start getting some real closure because just when you think you’re done they’re calling you back for something else," Robin Paul, the victim’s daughter said. The family said they just want to get closure.

Chris Paul posted a photo to his Instagram. 

The Innocence Commission said they aren't done fighting for the men convicted of killing Jones. "To see what happened Thursday, it's deflating, it's horrible," attorney Brad Bannon said. "I can't imagine what they are feeling, but they know because we've told them that this is something that might happen, and they know because we told them that this is not over."

However, the district attorney said the statute doesn't allow for anyone to appeal the decision of the three-judge panel but they said if any motions are filed they'll keep fighting.

The Innocence Inquiry Commission is a state-run organization that's been around for 16 years.


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