Nearly thirty years after a New York man was convicted of a 1985 homicide, he was freed from prison Wednesday when Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson vacated the conviction based on DNA evidence. David McCallum was 16 when he and codefendant Willie Stuckey, who died in prison of a heart attack in 2001, was convicted for the kidnapping and murder of Nathan Blenner and sentenced to 25 years to life.
Prosecutors have concluded that alleged confessions made by the two were false. The Daily News reported that Thompson said there “is not a single piece of evidence” that connected the two suspects to the crime.
While making the announcement, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson slammed his predecessor for leaving behind a mess of injustice. “I inherited a legacy of disgrace with respect to wrongful convictions,” the DA said.
McCallum’s lawyer, Oscar Michelen, first brought McCallum’s case to The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit when it was under former DA Charles Hynes leadership, but his pleas went unanswered. (Elizabeth Holzman was the Brooklyn District Attorney in 1985 when McCallum and Stuckey were wrongly convicted.)
Including McCallum and Stuckey, Thompson’s review unit has cleared 10 men, two of them posthumously, who did time for murder. The pair were cleared by DNA testing on evidence obtained from the car Blenner was kidnapped in that matched other men.
“I think that the people of Brooklyn deserve better and I think we shouldn’t have a national reputation of a place where people were railroaded and convicted of murders they did not commit,” he said.
Center on Wrongful Convictions
assisted in McCallum’s defense.