The conviction of William Haughey, who spent eight years in prison for allegedly setting fire to a Carmel, New York restaurant, was reversed Monday by a federal court.
Haughey reached out to the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation For Justice in 2013 after exhausting his appeals. An initial investigation by the organization revealed that the evidence used in the original trial was not sufficient to prove Haughey’s guilt or to prove that the fire was deliberately set
At a press conference at the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice in the Bronx, one of the foundation’s attorneys, Rita Dave, said that experts hired by the attorney general determined that the fire was not arson and that evidence pointing to Haughey’s innocence had been destroyed.
“The location where this fire occurred had prior electrical fires–there were prior lawsuits involving fires,” Dave said. “And so this was not just a happenstance, this was more likely a repeat occurrence of an electrical fire but, in this instance, the man who tried to put out the fire is the man who actually got accused of it, sent to jail and then lost eight years and four months of his life.”
Haughey was released on bail earlier this month.
Jeffrey Deskovic established his foundation after being exonerated with help from the Innocence Project in 2006. Deskovic spent 16 years in prison for a rape and murder he did not commit.
The foundation is committed to exonerating the wrongfully convicted, reforming the justice system and assisting exonerees in their transition back into society.
View Monday’s press conference here.
Read the Hudson Valley Magazine story here.