EXI client Lavell Jones was convicted of a 1997 Albany homicide he did not commit based solely on his false confession, obtained after more than 36 hours of interrogation, which he later recanted. No witnesses or physical evidence tied him to the crime. EXI began working on Lavell’s case in 2011. In 2014, a man named Jeffrey Conrad was arrested in Ohio for an unrelated murder and confessed that he alone committed the murder for which Lavell and his codefendant, Carl Dukes, had been in prison for almost 19 years. Conrad knew details that only the true killer would know, and his confession is corroborated by information from the original police investigation into the homicide. EXI filed a motion on behalf of Lavell based on newly discovered evidence, actual innocence, and police misconduct, and Carl’s attorney followed with a motion on his behalf. The prosecution consented to vacate their convictions and dismiss the case based on newly discovered evidence, and on July 7, 2016, Lavell and Carl were finally exonerated and left the Albany County Courthouse as free men.
It is with great sadness and gratitude that EXI remembers Anne Feldman, who volunteered her time and expertise as EXI’s case manager from 2008 until a few months ago. Anne’s roots were always in public service; before she became a judge, she volunteered for causes like the NAACP and was a Hearing Director for the Commission on Human Rights. She began her work with EXI after retiring from 30 years on the bench in the Supreme Court of New York. In her time here, she was a force to be reckoned with – she fought passionately for EXI clients, was an invaluable member of our team, and was instrumental in the growth and development of our nonprofit. Anne’s wisdom, humor, and commitment to our cause will live on at EXI as we continue to honor her memory by fighting to free the forgotten in New York.
After 20 years behind bars, EXI client Richard Rosario was released on March 23, 2016, and his conviction was vacated. Richard turned himself into authorities in 1996, and told police the names, addresses and phone numbers of 13 people who could confirm that he was more than a thousand miles away in Florida when the murder occurred in the Bronx. No police or prosecutor ever checked into his alibi, and his trial lawyer bungled his defense, calling only 2 alibi witnesses at trial. Years later, attorneys from Morrison Foerster, the Legal Aid Society and NAACP LDF brought forward 7 additional witnesses, but the Bronx DA’s office fought their efforts tooth and nail all the way to the US Supreme Court. As a last resort, they brought Richard’s case to EXI which – for the next five years – conducted a reinvestigation; filed two lawsuits against the NYPD under the Freedom of Information Law; and brought a motion to exonerate Richard based on actual innocence, newly discovered evidence, police and prosecutorial misconduct, and ineffective assistance of counsel. When that motion was denied, EXI persuaded an appellate court to reconsider his case. Richard’s appeal was pending when EXI attorneys met with incoming Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark who, unlike her predecessor, agreed to reinvestigate the case. Up against the appellate deadline, District Attorney Clark consented to vacate Richard’s conviction and release him. It was the first high-profile wrongful conviction case in which the new District Attorney took action. Click here to read more about Richard’s release.
The news of Richard’s release came just days before the release of Dateline NBC Dan Slepian’s digital documentary series Conviction, which follows Slepian’s two year investigation into Richard’s case, including his release. Watch all 11 episodes of Conviction to see Richard’s story.
More On Richard’s Case:
At age 14, John was charged with the murder and attempted murder of two NYC Correction Officers in Brooklyn in 1991. He was convicted in a high-profile case at the time based upon the testimony of one eyewitness. New evidence has surfaced that Louis Scarcella and other rogue Brooklyn homicide detectives illegally arrested John in his mother’s apartment and framed him for the murder. Scarcella, whose tactics have come under fire in dozens of cases, was in charge of the investigation and involved in the identification procedure of John. EXI’s fight to clear John’s name continues as we move forward with an emotionally charged 440 hearing, which is still underway in Brooklyn.
Read about John’s case:
Selwyn was wrongfully convicted of a double homicide in Westchester and is serving the 15th year of a 50-year-to-life sentence. EXI along with attorneys from Paul Weiss won a new trial for Selwyn in 2009 based on new alibi evidence. We then tried the case twice in 2011 with the first ending in a hung jury (9 to 3 for acquittal) and the second in a conviction. The essential evidence against Selwyn, who is intellectually impaired, was his false confession obtained after many hours of interrogation. No physical evidence linked him to the crime, and DNA on the murder weapon belonged to someone else. On September 2, 2015 in a watershed appellate decision that will help other wrongfully convicted people, the Appellate Division, 2nd Department reversed Selwyn’s conviction and granted a new trial based on the lower court’s failure to allow testimony from a false confession expert who could educate the jury on the phenomenon of false confessions. The District Attorney’s effort to appeal that decision was recently rejected by the Court of Appeals. We expect that we will soon retry the case – Selwyn’s fifth trial for these crimes – and win Selwyn his freedom and the justice he deserves.