A recent article from the Times Union tells the story of a man in prison that has confessed to a murder almost 20 years ago, a murder which saw two other men convicted and sentenced to jail for the crime. On February 18, 1997, an Albany-area college student was shot in the head in his basement apartment, sustaining an injury that proved fatal when the victim succumbed to the gunshot and died later that morning. Two men were later convicted of the murder when they signed statements confessing to the murder after lengthy interrogations.

According to the article, court records indicate that one of the potentially wrongfully accused defendants had been awake for more than 30 hours, a period in which intense interrogation ensued. Court records also indicate that this defendant began writing a statement asserting his innocence on two separate occasions during the interrogation process, both of which were ripped up by a detective working on the case. Upon being threatened with the death penalty, both defendants signed confession statements that contained details they did not know. This defendant even had an alibi with witnesses in Brooklyn that placed him hours away from the crime scene at the time the murder was committed. Even at sentencing, records indicate one of the defendants maintained the innocence of both men, stating they did not know what they were signing at the time and had not taken part in the murder.

Both men convicted in this case are currently serving sentences of 30 years to life, but this new evidence has given rise to the possibility of reopening the defendants’ case. The confession came to years ago from a man in prison in Ohio. The article indicates that the man confessed because he could not believe that two innocent men had been sentenced for a crime he alleges that he committed. After providing details related to the crime, as well as a confession, news of the potentially wrongful convictions was received by the Exoneration Initiative. Attorneys for the Exoneration Initiative, based in New York City, provided data for the article citing statistics from the National Registry of Exonerations which indicate that 22 percent of homicide convictions overturned in the United States come from cases in which the defendants were coerced into confessing to crimes they did not commit. One of the defendants has already filed the necessary documentation to request that his conviction be overturned, a decision which currently rests with a New York Supreme Court Justice. The other defendant in this case is expected to file similar documents requesting his conviction be overturned soon.

The Importance of Legal Assistance

While it may seem that freeing these two men is an easy process, it must still be decided by the court whether or not the new suspect’s confession is true and whether or not the two defendants currently in jail for the crime were wrongfully convicted. This story highlights just how critical it is to have an experienced criminal defense attorney working with you if you have been charged with a violent crime. This particular story highlights that not everyone convicted of a crime has committed that crime, even if they had indeed committed other crimes. A criminal defense attorney can be with you during police interrogations to ensure that your rights are protected. If you are facing charges related to violent criminal activity, or any type of criminal activity, make sure that you assert your right to have an attorney present during interrogations. Be clear about your desire to have an attorney present, and make sure you do not engage in an interrogation without one regardless of any promises that might be made to you. The criminal defense team at Xavier + Associates (formerly Anelli Xavier) has experience representing clients accused of crimes ranging from identity theft to attempted murder, and can use that experience to work with you in preparing a defense that is most appropriate to your circumstances.

When you have been accused of a serious crime, it is most certainly a stressful experience. It is also an experience that can occasionally send an innocent person to jail if a person has failed to assert rights guaranteed to them. If you are facing criminal charges, contact the criminal defense team at Xavier + Associates (formerly Anelli Xavier) as soon as possible to ensure that your fundamental rights are protected and to secure legal representation. The criminal defense team at Xavier + Associates (formerly Anelli Xavier) can explain the details of charges you might be facing as well as the possible consequences, and can begin working with you on your defense right away.

DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem.  Corporate offices for Xavier + Associates (formerly Anelli Xavier) are located at 269 W. Jefferson St.; Syracuse, New York 13202; Telephone No.: (315) 473-0899.  Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.  Attorney Advertising.