A New York man couldn’t hold back his tears as a Brooklyn judge announced he was exonerated for the 1991 murder of a correction officer – the latest in a string of overturned murder convictions linked to disgrace former NYPD detective Louis Scarcella.
John Bunn, now 41, cried as Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice ShawnDya Simpson told him his second-degree murder conviction was overturned.
‘I am more than emotional about this day,’ Simpson said, according to the Daily News. ‘You were 14 at the time. This shouldn’t have ever happened.’
Bunn and another teen, Rosean Hargrave, were found guilty more than two decades ago for the 1991 murder of correction officer Rolando Neischer.
Bunn was 14 at the time, and Hargrave was 16.
John Bunn, now 41, was exonerated for a 1991 murder he was convicted of when he was 14 years old
Bunn broke down in tears in court on Tuesday as a New York judge told him his second-degree murder conviction had been tossed out
Bunn spent 17 years in prison before he was released on parole in 2009
Both teens were convicted based on tainted evidence produced by disgraced NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella. According to the New York Post, the now-retired detective placed the teens pictures in a photo array for Robert Crosson, Neischer’s partner who survived the shooting and became the sole witness.
Bunn’s legal team said there were issues with the case from the very beginning. Fingerprints found at the scene did not belong to either teen, and at one point Crosson had described the suspects as light-skinned men in their 20s.
Bunn and Hargrave were dark-skinned teenagers. Defense lawyers said the teens were framed.
‘There were problems with this case that were very obvious,’ defense lawyer Glenn Garber said. ‘There was no probable cause to make an arrest.’
Bunn was released from prison on parole in 2009 and went on to create the nonprofit organization AVoice4TheUnheard.
‘Y’all had the wrong man this whole time and you have someone out there running free and y’all had no right to do what you did,’ he said during his hearing, the Daily News reports.
‘I don’t know how I made it this far, but I believe I am here for a purpose. I just want to be proven innocent…I didn’t want to be in the dark side of the shadows they (the prosecutors) tried to put me.’
Hargrave was also exonerated in the decades-old crime. Appearing in a Brooklyn Supreme Court on Monday, the now 44-year-old was told by the judge that his murder conviction was tossed out.
Video courtesy of Pix11
Jabbar Washington (center) was released from prison in July 2017 after serving more than 20 years for a crime he did not commit. Disgraced ex-NYPD detective Louis Scarcella investigated Washington’s case
More than a dozen of Scarcella’s murder cases have been overturned after it was found that he engaged in ‘false and misleading practices’ when he was a member of the NYPD
Hargrave, who was there with his girlfriend and cousin, sobbed. He spent 24 years in prison for the killing.
‘There were times I saw death – that is how badly corrections officers beat me for a crime I did not commit,’ he said outside the courtroom, according to the New York Post.
Both of the exonerations comes as the Brooklyn district attorney’s office’s Conviction Review Unit investigate more than 70 murders that Scarcella helped investigate throughout his career with the NYPD.
Scarcella was the go-to detective in the ’80s and ’90s but it was found that he engaged in ‘false and misleading practices’ when he was a member of the NYPD. More than a dozen of Scarcella’s cases have been overturned.
In July 2017, Jabbar Washington was released after spending more than 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Washington, now 44, was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to 25 to life for a botched robbery that ended with one person dead.
During Washington’s trial, the jury was told that a female victim had picked Washington out from a police line-up conducted by Scarcella and another detective. The jury was not told that the woman later said she was pointing Washington out as someone she knew from her building, not one of the robbers.