New York City

Victims of the State

51 Cases

State Menu


County:   Bronx   Kings (Brooklyn)   New York (Manhattan)  Queens   Richmond (Staten Island)




Date of Alleged Crime


Bronx County, NY Joseph Barbato Sept 15, 1929
Joseph Barbato was sentenced to death for the murder of Mrs. Julia Musso Quintieri.  The victim was found by her six-year-old son, Joseph, upon his return home from Sunday church.  Quintieri was reported as being Barbato's common-law wife.  Police said Quintieri, 25, had roomed one time at Barbato's lodging house at 3215 Fifth Ave. but had moved to 2403 Cambreleng Ave. in the Bronx where she was strangled after rejecting Barbato's advances.  Barbato contended his confession to the crime was coerced, a contention that police denied.  However, the Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 1930 due to evidence that his body was covered with bruises and his eyes were blackened.  Charges against Barbato were subsequently dropped.  (NY Times) (MJ)  [9/05]


Bronx County, NY Arthur Barber 1965
Arthur Barber was convicted of the murder of Elijah Williams, a neighborhood numbers runner, and was sentenced to life in prison.  In 1975, nearly ten years after Barber's arrest, a federal judge released Barber on the ground that police obtained his confession to the crime with severe beatings and “a pattern of lawlessness that shocks the conscience.”  Police denied beating Barber, but the judge said the “brutal treatment” was supported by medical reports, court documents, and witnesses.  The judge also found that police had arrested Barber without probable cause, questioned him for an extended period before arraignment, refused to allow him to call a lawyer, failed to advise him of his right to remain silent, and searched an apartment for the murder weapon without a warrant.  (NY Times) (Innocent)  [1/10]


Bronx County, NY Marion Coakley Oct 14, 1983

Marion Coakley was convicted of raping Olga Delgado.  The crime occurred in Delgado's room at the Bronx Park Motel.  Delgado, her boyfriend, Gabriel Vargas, and Delgado's brother-in-law, Jorge Rios each independently described the rapist as a dark complexioned black male with a Jamaican accent, about 26-28 years old, with a short “afro” haircut.  Rios identified Coakley from a photo lineup and got the other two to agree that he was the perpetrator.

Coakley was 28 years old.  However, he was light complexioned and had no Jamaican accent.  He had no “afro” haircut when arrested two days later.  Coakley maintained that he had been at a Bible study meeting at the time of the crime and eight witnesses confirmed his alibi.  Coakley also demanded, took, and passed a polygraph test.  At trial, the jury was forced to resolve a difficult dilemma – eyewitnesses against alibi witnesses.  The jury convicted Coakley.  Coakley's post-conviction counsel then gathered serological tests and other new evidence.  Twenty-five months after the trial, this evidence convinced a court to set aside the conviction.  The DA then agreed to dismiss the charges.  (When Justice Fails) (NY Times)  [1/07]


Bronx County, NY Bronx Five 1984
In 1984, five men were arrested and subsequently convicted for sexually abusing 20 toddlers at three New York City funded day care centers in the Bronx.  All the convictions were overturned on appeal.  Police investigations used techniques on children to produce false testimony and implanted memories.  One defendant, Alberto Ramos, was convicted in 1984 after police used torture to extract a confession.  He was cleared in 1992.  He later filed a lawsuit and was awarded $5 million in 2003.  In 1986, Rev. Nathaniel O'Grady was also convicted of child abuse.  At his trial, one of the child witnesses apparently had not been coached enough and he identified the judge as his abuser.  O'Grady's conviction was overturned on appeal in 1996.  Albert Algarin, Franklin Beauchamp, and Jesus Torres, were also convicted of child abuse in 1986.  Their convictions were overturned on appeal.  (Gauntlet) (Religious Tolerance) (FJDB)  [11/07]


Bronx County, NY Alan Newton June 23, 1984
Alan Newton was convicted of rape after being identified by the victim.  He put in motions in 1994, 1997, and 1998 to have the biological evidence tested for DNA.  He was denied those motions because police said the evidence could not be found.  In 2005, an Innocence Project lawyer asked a prosecutor for help.  The evidence was found in its original storage bin from 1984.  DNA tests exonerated Newton.  (NY Times) (IP)  [9/06]


Bronx County, NY Morales & Montalvo Sept 28, 1987

Jose Morales and Ruben Montalvo were convicted of murdering Jose Antonio Rivera.  Rivera was chased through Kelly Park in the Bronx by a group of teenagers he had been feuding with.  He was stabbed and hit with a baseball bat and sticks.  One of the real killers, Jesus Fornes, confessed responsibility for the killing to a priest.  The apparently guilt-stricken Fornes admitted to him and later to others that he had been part of the group that had killed Rivera, but he insisted that Morales and Montalvo were innocent.  The priest advised he to speak to the court.  Fornes spoke to a defense attorney on the defendants' day of sentencing.  The sentencing was postponed.  In the meantime, Fornes found a lawyer of his own, who advised him not to talk.

After Fornes died in 1997, both the priest and the lawyer independently came forward, as Fornes' death relieved them of any professional responsibility to keep Fornes' statements confidential.   Both Morales and Montalvo were released in 2001 after this new evidence exonerated them.  (NY Times)


Bronx County, NY Milton Lantigua June 27, 1990
Milton Lantigua was convicted of the murder of Felix Ayala.  Ayala was shot to death in front of 1520 Sheridan Avenue shortly after 1:00 a.m. on the morning of June 27, 1990.  An earlier trial, conducted in 1991, ended in a mistrial when the jurors were unable to agree on a verdict.  A witness, Frances Nunez Rosario, identified Lantigua as the shooter after claiming she had been alone looking out her apartment window.  Later she recanted saying she had been preoccupied with a man in her apartment.  The prosecutor refused to charge Rosario with perjury, calling her false testimony an “honest mistake.”  Lantigua was released in 1996 and awarded $1.3 million in 2004-05 for 6 years of wrongful imprisonment.  (NY Times) (Justice: Denied)  [4/08]


Bronx County, NY Jose Garcia July 16, 1991

Jose Garcia was convicted of the murder of a friend named Cesar Vasquez.  Three gunmen shot Vasquez to death in a courtyard on Bailey Avenue.  Prosecutors at Garcia's 1993 trial claimed Vasquez and Garcia were linked to a drug gang battling for turf with rivals.  However, they failed to show proof of Garcia's alleged motive.  Their case rested on the testimony of one witness who claimed she saw the shooting.

Garcia was in the Dominican Republic at the time of the shooting and did not return to the U.S. until 17 days later.  At trial, Garcia's lawyer presented almost nothing of his alibi.  In Dec. 2006, after Garcia had served 15 years of imprisonment, a judge overturned his conviction.  The judge credited Garcia with a strong alibi, including documents that appeared to show that he was arrested in the Dominican Republic for traveling with false documents a day before the murder.  Garcia was released from imprisonment in Feb. 2007 after prosecutors declined to retry him.  [10/07]


Bronx County, NY Richard Rosario June 19, 1996
Richard Rosario was convicted of the shooting murder of Jorge Collazo.  No physical evidence linked him to the crime, but two eyewitnesses identified him.  However, abundant alibi evidence indicates that Rosario was living 1070 miles away in Deltona, Florida at the time of the crime.  Rosario's trial lawyers failed to send an investigator to Florida to gather this evidence.  Despite a post-conviction gathering of evidence, appeals courts have failed to provide him relief.  Rosario is still imprisoned as of 2010.  (JD36 p3)  [10/07]


Bronx County, NY Diomedes Polonia 1997

Diomedes Polonia was convicted of attempted murder for allegedly shooting Thomas Hosford three times in the course of a robbery.  The victim said Freddy Polonia was his shooter.  Pedro “Freddy” Polonia is Diomedes brother and bears a strong resemblance to him.  When police visited Diomedes' apartment they believed they had found “Freddy.”  While in the hospital, the victim was shown fresh mug shots of Diomedes, whom he identified as “Freddy.”  Later, the victim further identified the wrong brother at a precinct station house line-up.

The actual Freddy signed a handwritten confession to the crime, but then reportedly fled to Puerto Rico.  He was later located in Massachusetts where he had been arrested for drug dealing and was making regular court appearances there.  A team of assistant DAs got in a car and drove up to Massachusetts, but Freddy invoked his right to counsel and silence.  Then, within days, Freddy fled again, reportedly on a plane out of Boston.  Diomedes' conviction was eventually overturned and he was released in Jan. 2003, but only after his Legal Aid attorneys logged 1300 hours on the case, and Diomedes spent over 5 and a half years in prison.  ( [1/07]


Bronx County, NY Frederick Lynch 1999
After being summoned for jury duty, Frederick Lynch did not disclose on his own volition that he had a felony drug conviction.  He had served on a jury before and that conviction was not an issue.  However, the jury Lynch served on was hung and apparently the judge was looking for a scapegoat.  Lynch was charged with perjury.  To avoid a possibly lengthy prison term, Lynch pleaded guilty to perjury and served 3 months in prison.  (Lynch v. Justice Bamberger)  [10/05]


Kings County, NY Pietro Matera Apr 12, 1931
Pietro Matera was convicted of the murders of Frank Zappo and Salvatore Felie during the robbery of a speak-easy at 230 Bay 49th Street.  Matera was sentenced to death.  The real culprit's wife confessed on her deathbed in 1960 that she had “fingered Matera to save her husband.”  Matera was released in 1960.  [1/07]


Kings County, NY John Valletutti Oct 11, 1945

John Valletutti was sentenced to death for the murder of Pfc. Leo Conlon, a 30-year-old disabled paratrooper who was home on leave.  The murder occurred during an attempted robbery of a bar and grill at 5011 Avenue L in Brooklyn.  After another man, William Cronholm, was arrested for the crime, he first said he committed the robbery alone, but later said he committed the robbery with two others.  Cronholm said he implicated others solely to stop lengthy police questioning.  He said he had only recently met his two accomplices.  He did not know the name of the getaway driver, and the guy who accompanied him into the bar he only knew as “Johnny.”  At his trial Cronholm went back to his original story of committing the robbery alone.

Police investigated Cronholm's background and found out that he knew a John Valletutti, 19, who had once been arrested for car theft.  Thirty hours after taking Valletutti into custody, police had their second confession to the crime.  Valletutti maintained that he only confessed after he had been brutally assaulted by police.  No independent evidence connected Valletutti to the crime.  Cronholm testified in Valletutti's defense that he committed the robbery alone.  Alibi witnesses testified that Valletti was playing shuffleboard several miles from the scene.  After convicting Valletutti, the jury recommended mercy, but the trial judge sentenced him to death.  Prosecutor James McGough later said that while the jury was deliberating, he had offered Valletutti the opportunity to plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter, a charge that carried a maximum sentence of 15 years.  Valletutti declined the offer, insisting he was innocent.

Valletutti's conviction was reversed by the NY Court of Appeals which found that his confession was of doubtful reliability due to the evidence of the wounds he received while in police custody and to the lack of other evidence implicating him in the crime.  Charges against Valletutti were subsequently dropped and he was released from imprisonment in 1948.  (NY Times) (The Innocents)  [7/09]


Kings County, NY Samuel Tito Williams Apr 20, 1947

Samuel Tito Williams was sentenced to death for the murder of 15-year-old Selma Graff.  Graff was fatally bludgeoned by an intruder about 2 a.m. in the bedroom of her home.  She lived at 143 East 96th St. in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn.  Graff's 9-year-old brother, Donald Graff, shared her room and struggled with the intruder before being clubbed into unconsciousness.  Donald described the intruder as a 5'5" white man who simpered or giggled.  The murder touched off one of New York City's biggest manhunts.

Five months after the murder, police arrested 18-year-old Williams for a series of alleged burglaries.  He reportedly was inclined to giggle.  After police questioning, Williams confessed to the Graff murder and identified a flashlight found at the scene as his own.  However, Williams was not a 5'5" white man, but a 6' tall black man.  Following Williams' confession, eight police officers involved with the case received rewards in the form of promotions, added pay, and certificates of commendation.  Eleven officers on the case were awarded $50 government bonds during an eight-course banquet sponsored by the Pitkin Avenue Merchants Association.

At trial the victim's brother identified the killer as a white man, but later said he “was all mixed up.”  Williams testified that his confession was obtained under duress.  He said detectives had was beaten him with “a blackjack, a rubber hose, and a club,” and that they also burned him with “lighted cigarettes and cigars.” The jury convicted Williams of murder with a recommendation of mercy.  However, trial judge Louis Goldstein imposed a death sentence.  Governor Dewey later commuted Williams' death sentence to life in prison.  In 1963 the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated Williams' conviction after ruling that his confession was coerced.  In 1973 New York City awarded Williams $120,000 for his false arrest and the malicious prosecution he suffered.  (NY Times)  [7/09]


Kings County, NY Camilo Leyra Jan 10, 1950
Camilio Leyra was convicted of murdering his father, 75, and mother, 80, with a hammer in the couple's Brooklyn apartment.  Leyra and sentenced to death.  Following the murders, Leyra was interrogated for several days without much sleep, during which time he suffered from a painful sinus.  Police brought him a doctor allegedly to treat his sinus, but the doctor was a psychiatrist with considerable knowledge of hypnosis.  By skillful and suggestive questioning, threats and promises, the psychiatrist obtained a confession.  An appeals court found that the confession was coerced and overturned the conviction.  Since little outside evidence implicated him in the murders, Leyra was released in 1956.  (FindLaw) (NY Times) (Leyra v. Denno) (People v. Leyra) (Post-Gazette)  [1/07]


Kings County, NY George Whitmore, Jr. Apr 23, 1964 (Brownsville)

After Elba Borrereo, a twenty-year-old practical nurse from Puerto Rico, was assaulted, Police Officer Frank Isola heard her scream and fired warning shots at the fleeing assailant.  Five hours later Isola encountered George Whitmore, Jr. on the street, but concluded that Whitmore was shorter and thinner than the assailant.  However, the next day, Isola and a detective spotted Whitmore again and took him to the precinct station for questioning.  At the station Borrereo viewed Whitmore through a peephole and identified him as the man who tried to rape her.  She had earlier only stated that the assailant tried to snatch her purse.  Whitmore had in his possession a picture of a young woman that a detective identified as Janice Wylie.  Wylie, 21, and Emily Hoffert, 23, had been stabbed to death 8 months previously in the apartment they shared on the East Side of Manhattan.  Wylie was a Newsweek magazine researcher and Hoffert was a teacher.  Newsweek offered a $10,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the murderer or murderers.

Read More by Clicking Here


Kings County, NY Eric Jackson Aug 2, 1978

Eric (Erick) Jackson, also known as Eric Knight, was convicted of setting a fire to a Waldbaum's Supermarket in Sheepshead Bay.  Six firefighters died in the blaze.  The investigation was plagued by public disputes between fire marshals and police arson investigators.  After an informant fingered him, Jackson was indicted in May 1979 on arson and murder charges.  Police said he confessed to setting the fire for $500.  Jackson was sentenced to 25 years to life.

The firefighters’ widows hired an attorney, Robert Sullivan, to bring a lawsuit for civil damages. In the course of preparing that lawsuit, Sullivan concluded that Jackson was innocent. Sullivan turned his efforts toward obtaining Jackson’s release.  He was later recognized by the New York State Bar Association for his efforts in the case.

In 1988, a judge overturned Jackson's conviction because prosecutors had withheld evidence from his defense.  This information included a fire marshal’s report that there had been “four separate and distinct fires” in the supermarket, of which only one caused the deaths of the firefighters. In addition, a New York City Police detective who had been involved in the investigation concluded that the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit, and said that he had repeatedly told this to the District Attorney’s office.

In 1994, Jackson was retried.  The defense maintained that Jackson's confession was coerced and that the fire was an accident resulting from faulty electrical wiring.  Jackson was acquitted and released after serving nearly ten years in prison.  (IP Arson) (Inevitable Error) (People v. Jackson)  [7/07]


Kings County, NY Collin Warner Apr 10, 1980
Collin Warner was convicted of second-degree murder for the shooting death of Mario Hamilton, 16, outside Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush.  Hamilton was killed by a single bullet that struck him in the back of his neck.  In 2001, Warner's co-defendant, Norman Simmonds, 15, confessed that he acted alone.  Warner's conviction was vacated and he was released.  The victim's brother, Martell Hamilton, said he fingered Warner under pressure from detectives and felt awful about it for years.  (Google) (NY Times)  [6/05]


Kings County, NY Scott Fappiano Dec 1, 1983
Scott Fappiano was convicted of rape, sodomy, burglary, and sexual abuse.  The victim picked him out of a photo lineup and out of a live lineup.  The victim's husband, a police officer, also viewed the live lineup and picked one of the fillers.  Fappiano's first trial ended in a hung jury that voted 11 to 1 for acquittal, but he was convicted on retrial.  Fappiano was sentenced to 20 to 50 years imprisonment.  In 2006, DNA tests cleared Fappiano of the crime and he was released.  (IP) (NY Times)  [12/06]


Kings County, NY Barry Gibbs Nov 4, 1986

Barry Gibbs was convicted of murdering Virginia Robertson, a prostitute whose strangled body was found dumped on the Belt Parkway near Mill Basin Bridge.  A witness, Peter Mitchell happened to be jogging on the bike path of the Parkway and said he saw the man who dumped the body.

Ten days later Gibbs was working as a counterman at a deli at the junction of Flatbush and Nostrand Aves.  Police detective Louis Eppolito came in and took a can of soda out of the fridge.  Gibbs told him, “That will be 75 cents.”  According to Gibbs, Eppolito got so PO'd that he had asked for money that he took him down to the precinct station and tried to beat him into confessing to Robertson's murder, a murder he had no idea about.  The witness, Mitchell, then identified Gibbs from a lineup as the man who dumped the body.  Mitchell had initially described the dumper as 5-foot, 6-inches tall with a moustache.  Gibbs was was 5-foot, 11-inches tall and had no facial hair.

In 1999, noted attorney Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project took up Gibbs case, but the case evidence file had mysteriously disappeared.  In 2005, agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency arrested Eppolito in Las Vegas and charged him with being a hit man for the Lucchese crime family.  In his home the Feds found Gibb's case file and when they contacted Mitchell, he told them Eppolito had coerced him into identifying Gibbs and that he “believed, and continues to believe, that Barry Gibbs is not the person he saw disposing of the victim's body.”  Gibbs was subsequently exonerated and released after more than 18 years in prison.  Eppolito was convicted of numerous charges including eight counts of murder.  (NY Daily News) (Fox News)  [4/10]


Kings County, NY Faison & Shepard Mar 14, 1987
Anthony Faison and Charles Shepard were convicted of murdering cab driver Jean Ulysses.  They were convicted because an informant perjured herself in order to split the $1,000 reward with her boyfriend, who was the actual murderer.  Faison wrote 62,000 letters trying to enlist help from someone on the outside.  He found help from one police detective.  Because fingerprints found at the crime scene that did not match them, Faison and Shepard were exonerated.  In 2003, each of them was awarded $1,650,000 for 14 years of wrongful imprisonment.  (NY Times)  [10/05]


Kings County, NY Lamont Branch Mar 26, 1988 (Brownsville)
Lamont Branch was convicted of shooting to death Danny Josephs, 37, in 1990.  Branch's brother, Lorenzo later admitted responsibility for the shooting.  Branch was freed in 2002.  (NY Times)  [10/05]


Kings County, NY Jeffrey Blake June 18, 1990 (East New York)
Jeffrey Blake was convicted of murdering Everton Denny and Kenneth Felix.  The victims were killed by dozens of bullets fired from an automatic weapon into their car in East New York.  Blake was convicted on the testimony of a single eyewitness, Dana Garner, whose testimony prosecutors later admitted was false.  Blake's lawyer believes prosecutors should have taken a harder look at their witness's credibility since he also claimed to have witnessed another double shooting that occurred two weeks after the Denny-Felix shooting.  Garner cannot be prosecuted for perjury as the 5-year statute of limitations for the crime has expired.  Blake was freed in 1998.  (NY Times)  [10/05]


Kings County, NY Hector Gonzalez Dec 2, 1995

Hector Luis Gonzalez was charged with murdering Lemuel Cruz who was killed in a fight outside the Con Sabor Latino nightclub.  A witness placed him at the scene of the fight.  Gonzalez also had six bloodstains on his pants, five of which had markers consistent with the victim, but also with more than half the New York City population.  On this basis he was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years to life in prison.

A subsequent federal investigation into the Latin Kings street gang produced testimony that Gonzalez was not involved in the murder.  DNA tests were performed to corroborate the testimony and the results showed that the bloodstains did not come from the murder victim but from two men wounded in the fight.  Gonzalez had been tending their wounds when their blood was transferred to his pants.  Gonzalez was released in 2002.  (IP)


Kings County, NY Jonathan Wheeler-Whichard Apr 20, 1996

Jonathan Wheeler-Whichard was convicted of the murder of Joseph Foster.  Foster was shot in the lobby of a crime-ridden building at 153 Marcus Garvey Blvd. in Bedford-Stuyvesant.  He had attacked Wheeler-Whichard earlier, and a witness said Wheeler-Whichard confessed to shooting Foster for revenge.  Another testified that she heard the two fighting.

Wheeler-Whichard was granted a judicial hearing in 2009 after one witness, now serving life on an unrelated murder, recanted.  The other was proven a liar when the real 911 caller was found.  The hearing judge, Justice Joseph K. McKay, reviewed this evidence and also heard from alibi witnesses not called at trial, including a correction officer.  McKay said there are several suspects in Foster's murder, including a brother of one of the witnesses who implicated Wheeler-Whichard.  He vacated Wheeler-Whichard's conviction on grounds of “actual innocence,” a ruling that appeared to be a first in the State of New York.  A Manhattan convict, Fernando Bermudez, also had his conviction overturned on the same grounds later the same year.  The rulings prevent the state from retrying Wheeler-Whichard or Bermudez.  (NY Daily News)  [4/10]


Kings County, NY Derrick Bell July 16, 1996

Derrick Bell was convicted of the robbery and shooting of Brentonol Moriah.  Moriah, who suffered enormous blood loss from a single shot to the thigh, spent the next 11 days under heavy sedation and in a near-comatose state.  Moriah knew Bell from having lived in the same rooming house with him for more than a year.  Nevertheless, at the scene of the crime, he did not name Bell, but instead described the perpetrator as a black male who wore a lemon-colored shirt.  Twelve days after the shooting, Moriah identified Bell.  The identification was the only evidence used to convict Bell.

Following his conviction, Bell submitted an affidavit from a neuropsychologist, who stated that Moriah's testimony contained “unequivocal evidence that he suffered from retrograde amnesia for the events predating the loss of consciousness,” that the amnesia was made worse by the medications he likely received, and that it was unlikely that he had regained full consciousness when he first named Bell.  Even a month after the shooting, Moriah was unable to recall his description of his assailant that he had given at the crime scene.

In 2007, the federal Second Circuit Court overturned Bell's conviction.  It ruled that Bell's defense lawyer was ineffective because he failed to inquire into the effects of blood loss and heavy sedation on the memory of the victim.  (  [10/07]


Kings County, NY Angel DeAngelo July 1, 1999
(Federal Case)  Angel M. DeAngelo was convicted on federal charges of murdering Thomas Palazzotto.  Palazzotto was shot and killed on the corner of Columbia and Kane Streets in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.  Prosecutors argued DeAngelo committed the murder to gain entrance into a racketeering enterprise.  The conviction was later vacated because a judge said he feared an innocent man had been convicted on “patently incredible testimony.”  The judge said that prosecutors had relied on “blatant, critical perjury by all of the key witnesses.”  Charges against DeAngelo were dropped and he was released in 2004.  (NY Times)  [4/08]


New York County, NY Ameer Ben Ali Apr 24, 1891 (East Side)
Ameer Ben Ali, an Algerian sailor, was convicted of the murder of Carrie Brown, a 60-year-old prostitute.  Brown had been killed in a hotel room across from Ali's room.  The murder initially prompted speculation that Jack the Ripper had arrived in New York.  Ali was pardoned and released eleven years later based on the identification of an alternative suspect and an affidavit from a prominent journalist stating that the police had planted a trail of blood linking Ali to the crime.  (CWC) (CTI)


New York County, NY Oscar Krueger Dec 10, 1910
(Federal Case)  Oscar Krueger was convicted of sending an obscene letter based in part on handwriting analysis.  Following his conviction and his letters of protest to various officials, an Assistant United States Attorney reinvestigated the case and concluded Kreuger was innocent.  Based on the attorney's recommendations, U.S. President Taft pardoned Kreuger and he was released after serving nearly a year of imprisonment.  (CTI)  [10/08]


New York County, NY Pezzulich & Sgelirrach Mar 22, 1919

Frank Pezzulich and Frank Sgelirrach were convicted of armed robbery charges.  On Mar. 22, 1919, seven pistol-wielding masked men robbed a rooming house at 36 Beach St. occupied by nine Croatians.  The victims were robbed of $1728, $85, $13, and $15.  One victim, Mike Zic, followed a group of robbers that went towards Varick St.  He caught one of the robbers, Frank Strolich, and held him for police.  Strolich denied his participation in the robbery and gave his address as 408 W. 24th St.  A detective went to the address, a rooming house, along with Frank Zic, the heaviest loser in the robbery.  There they met two Austrians, Frank Pezzulich and Frank Sgelirrach.  Zic identified both as robbers.  During the robbery two robbers' masks had allegedly slipped, allowing them to be identified.  Both Austrians admitted knowing Strolich, but denied being robbers.

Read More by Clicking Here


New York County, NY Harry Cashin Feb 19, 1931
Harry F. Cashin was convicted of the murder of Detective Christopher W. Scheuing during the holdup of a speakeasy at 49 Lexington Avenue.  Cashin was sentenced to death.  His conviction was due to the testimony of Gladys Clayton, a woman of shady character.  The prosecution concealed from the defense a witness who said Cashin was not “the right man.”  On appeal, Cashin's conviction was reversed.  The charges were dropped in 1933 when Clayton admitted that Cashin had nothing to do with the murder.  (ISI) (NY Times) (Google) [4/08]


New York County, NY William Fisher Jan 28, 1933

William Fisher was convicted of manslaughter for shooting David Feldman to death in a Harlem speakeasy.  Feldman's killing occurred at the Belden Social Club on the southeast corner of 124th Street and Second Avenue.  Three others were wounded during the incident, a “wild melee,” in which pistols roared and knives flashed.

Fisher was paroled in 1944.  In 1958 a state court overturned his conviction for two reasons:  (1) The trial prosecutor had introduced a gun into evidence as the murder weapon, which he knew had not been fired by Fisher.  (2) The prosecutor had also suppressed witness statements that clearly supported Fisher's innocence.  In 1986, Fisher was awarded $750,000 for his wrongful imprisonment.  (Google) (ISI)  [9/07]


New York County, NY Isidore Zimmerman Apr 10, 1937
Isidore Zimmerman was sentenced to death for the shooting murder of a police detective, Michael Foley, during an armed robbery of the Boulevard Restaurant at 144 Second Ave.  A gang of six, dubbed the “East Side Boys” by the press, had robbed the restaurant.  Zimmerman was not present at the robbery, but was convicted for allegedly supplying the gun used in the murder.  He was cleared in 1962 after it was revealed that a government witness perjured himself when he testified that Zimmerman provided the gun.  Zimmerman was awarded $1 million for 24 years of wrongful imprisonment.


New York County, NY Francis Featherstone Apr 25, 1985
Francis Featherstone was convicted of the murder of construction worker Michael Holly, 41.  Featherstone was reputedly a ranking member of the Westies, an Irish organized crime group based on the West Side of Manhattan.  Featherstone's conviction was overturned six months after his conviction when prosecutors felt another man had committed the crime.  Prosecutors also said that Featherstone's defense attorneys had known the identity of the real killer throughout his trial.  [1/07]


New York County, NY Central Park Five Apr 19, 1989

Harlem teens Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, and Kharey Wise, ages 14 to 16, were accused of bludgeoning, raping, and leaving to die a 28-year-old female jogger in New York's Central Park.  The jogger was later learned to be Trish Meili, an investment banker at Salomon Brothers.  The media referred to the assault as a brutal “wilding” by out of control youth.

The teens had been picked up in a police sweep of the park and conveniently were already in custody when the victim was found.  All the teens except Salaam confessed to the crime on videotape.  The prosecution would admit 13 years later that the confessions “differed from one another on the specific details of virtually every major aspect of the crime – who initiated the attack, who knocked the victim down, who undressed her, who struck her, who raped her, what weapons were used in the course of the assault and when the sequence of the events in the assault took place.”  The victim was knocked unconscious and was not able to identify any assailant.  All five were convicted at trial solely because of the confessions.

In 1990, following the convictions, DNA tests on semen found inside and on the victim, showed that it did match any of the Central Park Five.  The test results received little publicity and the recovered semen was attributed to a sixth “mystery” member of the gang.  In Jan. 2002, Matias Reyes, 31, a serial rapist, confessed to committing the crime alone.  DNA test results matched Reyes and the convictions of the five were vacated.  The five had already served their seven to thirteen year juvenile sentences.  At least three were denied parole for maintaining their innocence in the crime.  (American Justice) (IP1) (IP2) (IP3) (IP4) (IP5) (CWC)


New York County, NY Lemus & Hidalgo Nov 23, 1990

David Lemus and Olmado Hidalgo were convicted of the murder of Marcus Peterson and the attempted murder of Jeffrey Craig.  Both victims were nightclub bouncers who were shot at the Palladium on East 14th St.  Prior to the shootings, the bouncers had an argument with their assailants.  During the argument, another man acted as a mediator between the two parties.  At trial, three witnesses identified Lemus and Hidalgo as the shooters.  The witnesses also identified Jose Figueroa as the mediator.

In Dec. 1992, Bernardo Rodriguez, a police informant and member of a Bronx gang named C&C, told police detectives that he had seen the Palladium shooting and that it was carried out by C&C members.  He reported that the gunmen were Joseph Pillot and Thomas Morales.  Two years later, Pillot told authorities in two separate interviews that he and Morales were responsible for the crime.  He said that they had shot the bouncers after being denied access to the club. (Pillot claimed that his gun jammed but that Morales's did not.)  In 1996, Pillot again testified to his involvement at a court hearing.

In 2000, during a federal investigation of C&C, Richard Feliciano, a former gang member, told the authorities that he was the mediator in the Palladium dispute and that Lemus and Hidalgo did not shoot the bouncers.  He named Morales as the shooter.  Several other witnesses backed up Feliciano's testimony, although some were gang members who may have had an incentive to turn on their own in the hopes of gaining leniency.  Two of the witnesses were deemed to be more credible.  In 2004, defense lawyers obtained prison records that showed that Figueroa, the mediator identified by trial witnesses, was in jail on the night of the shootings.  In 2005, Hidalgo's and Lemus's convictions were overturned.  Hidalgo was deported to the Dominican Republic.  Prosecutors opted to retry Lemus, for in a taped conversation, he had confessed to a woman that he committed the crime.  Lemus said that he exaggerated to impress the woman.  In 2007, Lemus was acquitted at retrial.  (NY Times) (NY Times #2)  [10/07]


New York County, NY Michael Mercer Mar 19, 1991
Michael Mercer was convicted of accosting a 17-year-old in the elevator of a Manhattan building, forcing her to the roof, then robbing and raping her.  The building was at 1405 Park Avenue, near 104th Street.  The victim returned to the building two months after her assault, identified Mercer as her assailant, and yelled to passers-by, “Stop him!  Stop him!”  A crowd caught Mercer, beat him, and held him for police.  The beating gave Mercer a swollen eye and several lacerations, two of which had to be sutured.  DNA tests in 2003 showed that another man, Arthur Brown, was the actual assailant and Mercer was innocent.  Brown cannot be charged with the assault because of the statute of limitations.  Mercer was released from prison after serving 11 years.  (IP) (AP News)  [9/05]


New York County, NY Fernando Bermudez Aug 4, 1991

Fernando Bermudez was convicted in 1992 of the murder of 16-year-old Raymond Blount.  Prior to the murder Blount had punched another teen named Efrain Lopez, allegedly after Lopez looked at him the wrong way.  This incident occurred in the Marc Ballroom, a Greenwich Village nightclub on Union Square West.  Lopez then approached an acquaintance in the club and told him what had happened.  Later, at 3 a.m., outside the club, Lopez and his friends encountered Blount and his friends.  As the two groups were getting ready to fight, Lopez's acquaintance asked him point out the puncher.  After Lopez pointed to Blount, the acquaintance ran up and fired a bullet into him, severing an artery.  Blount died in a hospital later that morning.

Read More by Clicking Here


New York County, NY David Finnerty 2005
(Federal Case)  David Finnerty, a New York Stock Exchange specialist, was convicted of cheating customers by engaging in interpositioning.  Interpositioning means that instead of matching pending buy and sell orders, a specialist can repeatedly trade for his company's proprietary account, making a profit from the slight differences in pricing.  In 2007, the conviction was overturned and judgment of acquittal was entered.  The judge held that the prosecution failed to prove that interpositioning is fraudulent or deceptive conduct.  (NY Law Journal)  [4/07]


New York County, NY William McCaffrey Sept 11, 2005
William McCaffrey was convicted of raping Biurny Peguero.  The rape supposedly occurred at knifepoint while McCaffrey was taking Peguero to an after hours party in Upper Manhattan.  Judge Richard Carruthers called the alleged assault “horrific” and “disgusting” when he sentenced McCaffrey to 20 years in prison.  DNA tests in 2008 showed that bite marks on Peguero's arm and shoulder which McCaffrey reportedly inflicted contained no Y chromosomes, indicating they were not caused by a man.  In 2009 Peguero, who had since married and adopted the last name Gonzalez, confessed to perjury.  She said McCaffrey did not rape her and she was riven with remorse for sending an innocent man to prison.  She said her injuries stemmed from a drunken brawl with a female friend.  According to a psychiatrist who examined her, Peguero came to believe her lie because she had been too drunk to remember much of the night in question.  McCaffrey was subsequently exonerated and Peguero was convicted of perjury.  (NY Times) (HPost)  [4/10]


Queens County, NY Louis Hoffner Aug 8, 1940 (Jamaica)
Louis Hoffner was convicted of the shooting to death Peter Trifon, a bartender, during a restaurant holdup.  At trial, a restaurant waiter identified him as the killer.  However, the DA's office had withheld exculpatory evidence.  When shown Hoffner's picture, a part owner of the restaurant flatly stated, “He's not the man.”  Also, the waiter initially failed to identify Hoffner, and only identified him after a 10-minute chat with police.  Hoffner was set free in 1952.  He was awarded $112,291 in 1955 for 12 years of wrongful imprisonment.  (Time) (NY Times)  [1/07]


Queens County, NY Paul Pfeffer Aug 23, 1953
Paul A. Pfeffer was convicted of murdering 22-year-old seaman Edward S. Bates.  Bates was found beaten to death in his car which was parked in a Rockaway Beach waterfront lot.  Bates initially confessed to the crime, but then repudiated it, saying his confession was the product of coercion.  Following Pfeffer's conviction, another man, John Francis Roche, confessed to the Bates murder as well as to a number of other killings.  Pfeffer was granted a retrial after passing a series of lie-detector tests.  He was subsequently indicted for manslaughter in the killing of Bates, but the indictment was dismissed prior to trial.  (MJ) (NY Times)  [7/09]


Queens County, NY Alice Crimmins July 14, 1965

Alice Crimmins was suspected of abduction murders of her son, Eddie, and daughter, Missy, in part because the investigator thought she did not show “proper” grief.  Some also thought Crimmins was too interested in her appearance.  The murders occurred on July 14, 1965 and the case became a tabloid sensation.  Police wiretapped her phone and were treated to titillating talk with her many sweethearts.  However, the tapes did not reveal any conspiracy with others.  The murders would have required at least two accomplices.  Police waged a campaign of harassment to break her.  They called up Crimmins' employers and repeatedly got her fired.  They also called her estranged husband when she was with another man.  The husband chased one of her paramours outside without giving him a chance to get his clothes.

Crimmins was eventually convicted of the murder of her son Eddie, and the manslaughter of her daughter because of the memories of witnesses, which grew over time.  One witness claimed to hear normal speaking voices from two hundred feet away.  The prosecution alleged Crimmins killed her daughter because she intruded on her and her lover when they were having sex, and then killed her son because he learned about the killing of his sister.  Crimmins was paroled in 1977.  (CrimeLibrary)  [5/07]


Queens County, NY Nathaniel Carter Sept 15, 1981 (Cambria Hts)
Nathaniel Carter was convicted of stabbing his ex-wife's foster mother, Clarice Herndon, to death.  He was convicted after his ex-wife, Delissa Durham, testified against him.  He was cleared two years later when Durham admitted that she was the person who had stabbed her mother to death.  Durham cannot be prosecuted for murder because she was granted immunity for her testimony at Carter's trial.  (NY Times)  [9/05]


Queens County, NY Angelo Martinez Apr 10, 1985
Angelo Martinez was convicted of the murder of Rudolph Marasco, 70.  Marasco was killed while leaving an Ozone Park bingo hall.  Charles Rivera, a hit man, confessed to the crime in 1989 when he entered the federal witness protection plan.  Rivera said he killed Marasco because the Richmond Hill man would not move from a building that its owner wanted to sell.  The information about Rivera was turned over to Martinez's attorney, Jenny Maiola, in 1991 but she never filed an appeal.  Maiola was disbarred in 1995 after being indicted for stealing $300,000 from client escrow accounts.  Martinez was eventually exonerated in 2002.  (Google)  [4/08]


Queens County, NY Lazzaro Burt Aug 20, 1992 (East Elmhurst)

Lazzaro Burt was convicted of the murder of Wilfredo Cesacro.  A man on a street corner groped Cesacro's girlfriend, Lissette Saillant in East Elmhurst. The groper then shot Cesacro to death in the ensuing confrontation.  Saillant identified Burt as the shooter.  Saillant later said police had pressured her into making an identification she knew to be wrong.  In 2001, evidence surfaced that another man, Jarrett Smith, was Cesacro's killer.  Burt was released in 2002 and Smith was convicted of the murder.

About a year after Burt's release, Ronald Laws, a man who was shot in the leg, claimed that Burt had shot him.  Laws was the only witness to the alleged crime, there was no bullet casing or blood found where Laws said the shooting occurred, and it took Laws three months to identify Burt.  Burt spent 10 months in prison on assault charges.  Prior to Laws's claim, Burt had filed a $30 million suit against the state for the decade he spent wrongfully imprisoned.  At trial, Burt's defense argued that Laws had shot himself in the leg either accidentally or intentionally, and that the claim against Burt was an attempt to hustle him out of money.  A jury acquitted Burt.  (Pollard & Koenig, Attorneys)  [1/07]


Queens County, NY Joshua Rivera Sept 19, 1992
Joshua Rivera was convicted of the murder of Leonard Aquino and the attempted murder of Paul Peralta.  Both victims were shot at 4725 48th St. in Woodside.  Since Rivera's conviction, two witnesses have surfaced who say Rivera was not the shooter and that they unwittingly gave the actual perpetrators a ride to and from the shooting.  Peralta, who identified Rivera at trial, was reportedly wavering on his identification of Rivera.  A neighbor who rendered first aid at the time of the shooting said Peralta had told her that it had all happened too quickly for him to recognize his assailants.  Despite maintaining his innocence, Rivera pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Dec. 2006, in exchange for a time served sentence.  (Strange Justice) (NY Times)  [1/07]


Queens County, NY Lee Long June 1994
Lee Long was arrested in 1994 for a rape that occurred in Jackson Heights. When Long told police he had been at his girlfriend's house all night, one of the officers called the woman. She confirmed his alibi.  But in March 1995, Long was convicted of rape, sexual abuse and robbery, and was sentenced to 8 to 24 years. The officer who made the call to Long's girlfriend did not testify at his trial.  In 1999, a lawyer from Queens Legal Aid interviewed Long for his appeal case and realized he was dealing with an innocent man.  Legal Aid tracked down the police officer who had spoken with Long's girlfriend, and in June 2000, his conviction was overturned.  In 2006, Long successfully sued the O.J. Simpson dream-team firm of Cochran, Neufeld, and Scheck for $900,000.  The high-powered lawyers bungled his compensation claim against the state by missing a filing deadline.  (NY Post)  [1/07]


Queens County, NY Cardenas Brothers July 21, 1994

When some jewelry vendors were returning to their hotel in Elmhurst from a gem show in Manhattan, four Latino men snatched three cases of Tahitian black pearls from them.  The pearls were valued at $1.5 million.   As they escaped, the thieves attempted to carjack an off duty police officer.  The officer managed to shoot his service weapon, a 9-millimeter Glock, before he was knocked unconscious.  He later told detectives later that he thought he had hit a robber who was grabbing at the barrel of the gun.

Read More by Clicking Here


Richmond County, NY Harry L. Hoffman Mar 25, 1924
Harry L. Hoffman was convicted of the shooting/stabbing death of Maud A. Bauer on South Ave. in Chelsea, Staten Island.  The victim was killed after her car had stalled and she had been lured into another auto.  Following the murder, police closed off every exit from Staten Island including the Manhattan ferries to search for the killer.  Hoffman was exonerated in 1929 at his fourth trial for the murder.  (NY Times) (Google)  [1/07]


Richmond County, NY James O'Donnell May 1997
James O'Donnell was sentenced to 3 1/2 to 7 in prison years for attempted sodomy and assault.  DNA tests exonerated him of the crime after he served 2 years in prison.  (IP)  [5/05]