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Three Half-Brothers Exonerated in 1985 Murder

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The Brooklyn district attorney’s office is working to vacate the convictions of three half-brothers who spent decades in jail for crimes they didn’t commit.

Attorneys for Alvena Jennette, Robert Hill, and Darryl Austin said the office will ask a judge to vacate the men’s convictions, which they say relied on questionable evidence brought forth by a now discredited homicide detective, according to the New York Times (Times).

The work of shamed detective Louis Scarcella was blamed last year for the wrongful conviction of a man who was incarcerated for 23 years. Scarcella fabricated confessions, coerced witnesses, and failed to turn in exculpatory evidence. He used a crack addict named Teresa Gomez as a witness in six separate murder cases. The district attorney’s office started reviewing 57 of Scarcella’s cases last year, the Times reported.

The now-deceased Gomez frequently contradicted other witnesses and fouled up crucial details, and was even dismissed from a case for failing to show up for her cross-examination. One suspect described Gomez as someone who would sell a close relative for crack, according to the Times.

Gomez served as a witness against Jennette, Hill, and Austin, the Times reported.

The decision by the district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson, to vacate the convictions came in advance of any defense motions on the defendants’ behalf, according to the Times.

Hill is the only brother still behind bars; Jennette was released on parole in 2005, and Austin died in prison 14 years ago at the age of 37. Austin will be cleared posthumously, and his mother was scheduled to represent him in court today in front of Justice Neil J. Firetog of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, a civil rights attorney who represents the men told the Times.

Hill, 53, has multiple sclerosis and is already weeks away from parole, according to the Times.

The men were accused of killing Ronnie Durant in 1985. Durant’s murder was unsolved until it was assigned to Scarcella. Gomez said she saw Jennette and Austin rob and kill a man. Prosecutors later discovered her testimony of a Wild West shootout didn’t match the physical evidence. No gun was ever found in the victim’s possession and there was no evidence that any other gun had been used, the Times reported.

Brooklyn prosecutors announced in March that the first detective on the case had interviewed two people who said Jennette and Austin were present at the scene of the crime but did not participate in it. The information was never shared with the defense at the time of the 1988 trial, or any of the nine times Jennette appealed his conviction over the course of two decades, according to the Times.

At the trial of Hill in 1988, Gomez testified that she saw him kill a man on a street corner in January 1987, and accused him of being a drug dealer with the street name Bobby Love. According to Gomez, Hill stuff the dead man in a taxi with the help of three friends, the Times reported.

Hill admitted to finding Donald Manboardes shot in the basement of his grandmother’s house, and that he and his friends dragged Manboardes up the stairs, put him in a cab, and asked the driver to take him to Kings Country Hospital, according to the Times.

Hill’s friends were never called to testify, the Times reported.

breakinglawsuitnews.com disclaimer: This article: Three Half-Brothers Exonerated in 1985 Murder was posted on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 at 6:42 pm at breakinglawsuitnews.com and is filed under Other Lawsuits.

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