New York has seen a series of overturned convictions recently, including those of Wayne Martin, Myron Green, Carl Dukes, and Lavell Jones.
Martin was convicted in 2010 for the 2005 execution-style murders of Donald Turner Sr. and Ricardo Davids during a robbery-gone-wrong at a tire shop in Brooklyn, in which Turner’s son, Donald Turner Jr., was also injured. Despite his incessant claims of innocence and a hat containing his DNA being the only evidence placing him at the scene, Martin was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutorial misconduct ultimately led a judge to overturn Martin’s double homicide conviction.
Pending a hearing to overturn the conviction, an “irregularity” was found in the homicide investigation report. Prosecutors with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Appeals Bureau discovered that the name of an alternate suspect, Jeffrey Joseph, was included in the report, which was altered to exclude Joseph as a possible shooter—information that was not handed over to the defense. The Brooklyn DA’s Office then asked that Martin’s conviction be set aside and stated that the issue would be investigated further. They went on to say that although they have completed their investigation into Martin’s constitutional violations, they still need to look into the underlying facts of the case. One of Martin’s attorneys joined the prosecution’s motion to vacate the conviction and requested that the indictment be dismissed and his client be released.
In addition to the information regarding the homicide investigation report, it was revealed that former Assistant District Attorney Marc Fliedner failed to provide Martin’s attorney with a police report that could have helped his client’s case. That report contained a statement from Michael Belgrove, who claimed that he recognized Allan Cameron as the man that opened fire at the tire shop when he saw him on television in police custody for the murder of NYPD Officer Dillion Stewart. Both alternate suspects in the 2005 murders are currently in prison, as Joseph was convicted of a different murder and Cameron was convicted of Stewart’s murder.
As prosecutors decide whether to retry Martin, the judge ordered that he would remain in prison until a hearing on July 21.
Green was convicted of manslaughter and reckless endangerment after a driver killed Donald Norton, a pedestrian, in 2012. Green told officers who responded to the incident that he had taken anti-anxiety medications that made him sleepy. He was facing two to six years in prison when the New York Appellate Division overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial.
Police had ignored Green’s request for a lawyer and took his statements and blood tests. The judge during his trial permitted those statements and tests to be presented, which the appeals court ruled the judge improperly allowed. The Appellate Division Justices stated that although he failed a field sobriety test according to that information, along with other admissible evidence, the evidence that was improperly allowed possibly could have contributed to his conviction.
Carl Dukes and Lavell Jones
Dukes and Jones were convicted for the February 1997 murder of a University at Albany student, Erik Mitchell. Police alleged that they killed Mitchell so that he would not be able to testify against them for an October 1996 robbery of his apartment. Dukes and Jones have long admitted that they were involved in the robbery, but had nothing to do with Mitchell’s murder a few months later. Their murder convictions were largely due to a false confession that Jones, who was represented by the Exoneration Initiative when his conviction was overturned, made after police interrogated him for 36 hours.
A judge overturned their convictions last week after the Albany County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to dismiss the murder charges. Dukes and Jones were also allowed to plead guilty to single counts of robbery for the crime in October 1996. They were sentenced to the maximum of 14 years, but received time served for the past almost 20 years they have spent behind bars, and were released.
The Albany County DA’s Office’s motion to dismiss Dukes’ and Jones’ convictions came after Jeffrey Conrad confessed to Mitchell’s murder. They stated that prosecutors believed him because he was able to provide details about the murder that only the killer could have known. Conrad is currently in an Ohio prison for another murder.