Diigo Post Excerpt:
It was a frighteningly close call for [name withheld]. The 23-year-old Buffalo man was already charged with murder and indicted by a grand jury for a crime he did not commit.
All that was required for a wholesale miscarriage of justice was for the plea negotiations to begin, presenting [name withheld] with the horrifying options of standing trial or admitting to a crime he didn’t commit in hopes of a lesser sentence.
It didn’t come to that because DNA evidence found at the crime scene exonerated [name withheld] and implicated another man, [name withheld]. To his credit, Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita moved quickly to dismiss the charges, but the case raises the same issues that have led to lengthy prison sentences for other innocent people in Erie County – issues of which law enforcement and the State Legislature are fully aware, but haven’t seen fit to address.
[name withheld] was ensnared by the same human error that put [name withheld] in prison for rapes he did not commit: witness misidentification. Eyewitness testimony was the only evidence against [name withheld], who, his lawyer noted, has no prior criminal convictions, no history of violence, no prior felony or misdemeanor.
The Innocence Project of New York City, which uses DNA evidence to free wrongfully convicted prison inmates, calls witness misidentification the number one cause of wrongful conviction.