In an article titled, “3 Are Exonerated of Murder in Cases Tied to a Discredited Detective,” Frances Robles and Stephanie Clifford of The New York Times report on the latest convictions to be overturned by new Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson due to police and prosecutor misconduct. Notably, Thompson’s decision came without prompting from the defense in the cases of the three defendants.
The exonerations come on the heels of another overturned conviction in the case of Jonathan Fleming last month and the hiring by Thompson of three attorneys to head up his Conviction Integrity Unit earlier this year.
Robles and Clifford report:
The Brooklyn district attorney’s office will ask a judge to vacate the murder convictions of three half-brothers whose trials relied on questionable evidence produced by a now discredited homicide detective, several lawyers close to the cases said.
The defendants, Alvena Jennette, Robert Hill and Darryl Austin, will become the first people connected with the detective, Louis Scarcella, to be exonerated since the district attorney’s office last year began reviewing 57 trial convictions obtained through the work of Mr. Scarcella.
Mr. Scarcella, whose investigative work was blamed last year for a wrongful conviction that kept a man in prison for 23 years, was accused of fabricating confessions, coercing witnesses and failing to turn in exculpatory evidence.
The decision by the district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson, to vacate the convictions came in advance of any defense motions on the defendants’ behalf.
If the prosecutors’ request is granted, only one man, Mr. Hill, will actually gain his freedom. Mr. Jennette, 50, was released on parole in 2007; Mr. Austin died in prison 14 years ago at age 37.
“The last time I saw my brother was at sentencing; the next time I seen him was in a casket,” Mr. Jennette said on Monday after learning that his conviction would be vacated. “This is the thing that really, really troubles me: He could not be here to share this. He was always optimistic that we would get out some day and that a wrong would be righted.”
Mr. Austin will be cleared posthumously, and his mother will stand in for him in court on Tuesday before Justice Neil J. Firetog of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, said Pierre Sussman, a Bronx civil rights lawyer who represents the brothers.
Mr. Hill has been in state prison since 1988. He is 53, has multiple sclerosis and was weeks away from parole.
“This is a bittersweet result for a family devastated by the criminal justice system,” Mr. Sussman said. “While Mr. Hill is gaining his freedom and his brother Alvena recovering his good name, their brother Darryl died alone in a jail cell. And all three brothers had to live through their respective decades in prison knowing that their mother was suffering for them on the outside.”
He credited Mr. Thompson for moving swiftly and “allowing the healing to begin.”
Read the entire article here.