Nearly a year after a New York appellate court granted a hearing on Derrick Hamilton’s actual innocence claim, he is poised to become the next murder defendant to be exonerated by Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson this year.
reported that Hamilton, who spent 20 years in prison for a 1991 murder he says he did not commit, was convicted largely based on eyewitness testimony that was recanted right after trail. He was paroled three years ago after the
exposed his story, but his fight to clear his name endured.
Hamilton maintained he was in Connecticut when Nathaniel Cash was killed in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and that he was framed by former detective Louis Scarcella. Last year, Scarcella — a detective who handled some of Brooklyn’s most notorious crimes in the 1980s and 1990s – became the focus of a review conducted by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit. According to the
, Hamilton was the first defendant to make a public allegation against Scarcella.
In January, the appeals court reinstated a motion to vacate his conviction, ruling that actual innocence claims should be heard regardless of procedural barriers. Hamilton has been waiting since then for the Conviction Integrity Unit to finish its review of the case, which mostly consisted of interviewing witnesses who backed Hamilton’s alibi.
Hamilton has taken up work as a paralegal since he was paroled and has helped with other wrongful conviction cases.