A Brooklyn man who falsely confessed to a 1995 murder and robbery was released Wednesday after 20 years in prison after a judge vacated his conviction with consent from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. The case is one of 40 cases handled by Detective Louis Scarcella that is being reinvestigated by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s conviction review unit.
Jabbar Washington was only 23 when he was arrested after being identified by one of the victims of a shooting and robbery. Before testifying before the grand jury, the witness told police that she recognized Washington from the building but could not say that he was involved in the crime. The trial prosecutor, who has since been sued in federal court for malicious prosecution and was found to have committed prosecutorial misconduct in an unrelated case, did not disclose this information to Washington’s defense attorney.
Washington confessed to the crime, but at trial he testified that his confession was coerced by Detective Scarcella, who he said beat him, choked him and squeezed his testicles during the interrogation. Washington’s is the eighth conviction to be thrown out pursuant to the review of Scarcella’s cases.
“It wasn’t just Louis Scarcella,” Washington’s attorney Ron Kuby told the New York Daily News. “It was a whole institution in the DA’s office and on the bench and on the appellate courts that simply wanted crime to be punished.”
After his release, Washington and his family celebrated at the Brownstone, a local restaurant owned by Brooklyn exonerees Derrick Hamilton and Shabaka Shakur.