News 11.12.09

18 Years Later, Judge Tosses Case Against NY Man

Saying he had proved his “actual innocence,” a judge today tossed out the conviction and charges of Fernando Bermudez, a New York man who served 18 years in prison for a crime he has always said he didn’t commit.

"This court wishes to express its profound regret over the past 18 years. I hope for you a better future,” New York Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo said in dismissing the case against Bermudez.

Bermudez was convicted in 1992 of shooting teenager outside a New York City nightclub in 1991. He was convicted based in part on questionable eyewitness testimony. The Innocence Project, in partnership with the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in Bermudez’s appeal, arguing that the eyewitness identification procedures used in the case were suggestive and could have contributed to a misidentification. The eyewitnesses recanted after Bermudez was convicted.

Bermudez remains in prison because he has an unrelated drug conviction, but his attorneys are seeking to have the case resentenced as time served.

"This is too long, but justice is ours today," his tearful wife, Crystal, said outside court. "He's a good man. He didn't deserve to have this happen to him."


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. (Associated Press, 11/12/09)

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