After Key Evidence Was Withheld, 2 Men Spent 3 Decades in Prison
The recent spate of exemptions in Queens follows Ms Katz’s creation of a Conviction Integrity Unit after she became a District Attorney in January 2020. Her predecessor, Richard A. Brown, had long refused to create a formal examination division to assess allegations of innocence, even as prosecutors in other districts have done. Mr Brown, who died in 2019, has instead chosen to outsource these investigations to senior members of his staff.
For Mr Roman, the choice may have turned out to be important: his case was re-investigated in 2013 and 2018, after lawyers argued new evidence undermined the credibility of two witnesses , according to documents filed by the court. However, the district attorney’s office took no further action.
He was accused of shooting two men, one fatally, after a drug dispute.
But her height and hairstyle did not match a witness’s initial descriptions of several possible suspects, new evidence shows. And the witness, who knew the victims, later told Queens investigators that he received information from a detective who was working on the case.
The New York Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Ellis was convicted of murder in the murder of Joseph Healy, 25, an assistant football coach at Hofstra University, who was shot and killed outside an Arby’s restaurant in Hempstead, NY, in 1990. The shooting attracted media attention, and police were under pressure to identify the suspects. When Mr Ellis and two other men were arrested in connection with an armed robbery the following year, police questioned them about Mr Healy’s murder.
After being interrogated intermittently for 18 hours, during which time Mr. Maazel said his client was refused food and drink, was repeatedly woken up and handcuffed to a bench, Mr. Ellis confessed to the crime. He recanted soon after and has since insisted on his innocence.
A witness to the shooting interviewed by police said she told them Mr Ellis was not the shooter. And, Mr. Maazel argued, Nassau County Police Detective Richard Wells interviewed several people who identified suspects other than Mr. Ellis and then failed to turn over his notes of those interviews to Mr. Ellis. The Nassau County Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Although Mr Ellis’ conviction has been overturned, he could still be retried by the Nassau County district attorney. A spokesman for District Attorney Brendan Brosh said on Monday that a ruling on the matter was expected by September 20.
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